Asian Fusion

EASTERN ELEMENTS INSPIRE MODERN AMERICAN STYLE.

BY LORRAINE DEPASQUE

While shopping for your wardrobe this season, have you noticed that many of the most fashion-forward styles contain elements of Eastern cultures? Influences from Japan are particularly prevalent, like pleated origami-inspired organdy cotton, wingshaped shoulders, and wide pants, among others. It’s a trend that will continue into fall and winter, with floral jacquards from Vera Wang, Eastern spiritual styling from Prada, and brushstrokes of color from Lela Rose.

And what jewelry do these Asian-infused fashions beg for? Pieces with a decidedly Eastern edge, of course. “These clothes are the perfect canvases, so to speak, for jewelry,” says David Wolfe, creative director of the Doneger Group in New York City. “Unlike what we saw before this year, the new fashions aren’t heavily embellished.” Wolfe, one of fashion’s leading international forecasters, adds that with these modern Eastern-inspired clothes, “The lines and the shades provide the color, if you will. And with this new sophisticated simplicity of extreme structures and curvilinear cuts, a strong jewelry statement becomes very important.”

GO EAST WITH YOUR JEWELRY
Some of the best fine jewelry brands are making accessorizing à la the Asian aesthetic easy to do this year, by incorporating one or several of the following elements:

GEMS: Certain stones “say” Eastern, especially jade (in all colors), red coral, black onyx, pearls, mother-of-pearl, emerald and ruby.

MATERIALS: Enamel and lacquer, materials used in original Far Eastern jewelry, are significant, and today “new Eastern” collections sometimes rely on colored resins and ceramics to impart that same bold mien.

TECHNIQUES: Filigree and mokume-gane bring Eastern cultures to mind. The openwork of filigree can invoke the idea of Chinese calligraphy, while the ancient Japanese metalworking art of mokume-gane is a process used by specially trained artisans for one-of-a-kind jewelry.

THEMES: Art Nouveau-like motifs are characteristic of Eastern jewelry, especially dragonflies and butterflies, plus flowers and plants like cherry blossoms, bamboo, lotus and peonies. Spiritual symbolism abounds: the Om, the Tree of Life and certain mythological creatures, such as dragons. And all 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac are definitely key.

2013 is The Year of the Snake on the Chinese
calendar, so new jewelry focused on those writhing reptiles is everywhere. The ancient Chinese culture viewed snakes as a positive omen, symbolic of eternal love, wisdom, immortality and so on. Today, contemporary luxury brands are fashioning serpentine-style jewelry whichever way you want it: replete with demonic details like a long tongue and menacing eyes, or in more stylized versions merely hinting at a snake via their super-curvy shapes, often inlaid or prong-set with precious gems. Whether you choose a snake-y style this year, or pieces with a feminine Art Nouveau-like beauty, heading toward the exotic East will surely lead you in the right direction!

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROBERTO COIN, JUST JULES.