From a very young age, we were generally taught that setting boundaries with others and even ourselves is ideal. However, when it comes to gender boundaries, there aren't necessarily boxes to stay within or rules to abide by—at least not in the past decade or so (because this has become common only recently). Not only have we begun to realise that gender is a social construct, it is also fluid and exists in a spectrum that's defined by how an individual identifies.
Fashion has become the go-to medium for self-expression. And how one chooses to dress everyday can help tell the story of a person's mood, characteristic or beliefs. We are well aware of the good feeling we get when putting on a nicely tailored suit or a fresh pair of sneakers; and that includes accessorising a look with jewellery. And yes jewellery isn't just for ladies.
In fact, brands such as Alan Crocetti, Austin James Smith, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin have been taking it up a notch by crafting gender-fluid designs for a few years now. Unconventional designs with at times intricate detailing, combine both typically masculine and feminine elements for jewellery devoid of preconceived notions of gender.
Brazilian-born, London-based jewellery designer Alan Crocetti came from a family that owned a knitwear factory so fashion was his calling right from the start. Later on, he spent four years at London's Central Saint Martins, focusing on womenswear before eventually dropping out during his final year. It was in London that Crocetti made a bold move that would change his life forever: starting a jewellery brand.
The designer rose to fame almost instantly. Crocetti was invited by Fashion East's Lulu Kennedy to present his collection at the showcase and was subsequently picked up by Dover Street Market London, New York and Tokyo. Crocetti believes in challenging the status quo when it comes to racial, sexual, political and gender related issues—translating them into his jewellery designs. He also believes in redefining the idea of conventional beauty through his love for the anatomy of the human body as well as finding strengths and weaknesses in social gender constructs. In short, Alan Crocetti is for everyone as long as they identify with the brand.
Inspired by the curves, nuances and forms of the human body, Crocetti presented one of his most notable collections during Paris Fashion Week in 2018. Titled 'Anarchy', the collection was a celebration of individuality and identity without filter, featuring fully nude androgynous models as well as a survivor of multiple battles against cancer. The collection consisted of a series of rings, earrings and even nipple rings—all appeared to have a sharp-edged design that was contrasted with the intricacy of crystals—that showcased his stance on gender-fluidity in jewellery.
NYC-based mixed-media artist Austin James Smith was originally from Detroit, Michigan. Smith studied Print Media at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and eventually made a home in bustling New York City in 2017. Known for using himself as the subject and social media as his canvas, he 'paints' self-portraits by exploring different mediums such as make-up, prosthetics, found objects as well as glass and metal work. The outcomes are often described as entries to fantasy—a playground for gender and the freedom to be whoever you want to be. Smith then started his namesake jewellery brand in hopes of inviting others like him into his world.
Smith has had four launches so far and they are each called 'Phase' along with a corresponding number. When Phase One hit, many of his pieces such as The Claw and The Slicer earrings quickly sold out online. He then added necklaces, nose rings and ear cuffs into the mix as well. These pieces formed what Smith's jewellery brand embodies—a sense of danger with the integration of beauty, body and identity. The campaigns of his collections are a mixture of his artwork with Austin James Smith jewellery. Entirely modelled and conceived by him, the visuals take on a deeper connotation of discovering one's self-expression and self-identity.
Ludovic de Saint Sernin is no stranger to fashion. As a matter of fact, the French designer started as an embellishment expert at luxury fashion house Balmain for two years before launching his own label. Prior to that, de Saint Sernin graduated from The Duperré School of Applied Arts in Fashion Design and set his eye on fashion right from the start.
The brand designed for all genders and intends to symbolise a return to beauty through the lens of sensuality and sexuality. Ludovic de Saint Sernin has expanded tremendously since its spring/summer debut in 2018. Besides a series of tops and trousers, the brand also designs underwear, swimwear, loungewear as well as a jewellery line. However, Ludovic de Saint Sernin jewellery is not your typical line of ornaments and trinkets, and it's most definitely unconventional.
Besides a collection of Swarovski crystal rings and chokers, the jewellery collection also includes stainless steel necklaces and rings that take inspiration from LGBTQIA+ culture's bedroom terminologies—namely 'top' and 'bottom'. Some are designed with a unique feature that allows users to flip its facing from 'top' to 'bottom' for those who prefer to not be restrained by labels.
Seeing the fluidity in the gender identity spectrum gives us control over how we decide to live our lives. Fashion has always been a powerful medium that has enabled us to express who we are inside on the outside, without conforming to traditional societal gender constructs. After all, with all the chaos occurring in the world, it's through understanding one another and being inclusive of our surroundings that we can then work towards a better tomorrow.