If fashion is a small world, then jewelry design is a freakin’ little township with no traffic lights. This would make custom jewelry a shack on the edge of this town with uncut grass, and SKULL custom jewelry the pressboard doghouse in the backyard.
With skull jewelry, for a real quality product, you really only have a few choices and most of them are detailed in Karl Elvis‘ blog complete with pictures and links. We have a small community and we like it that way. Why? Because we’r e not churning out mass market filth. We actually CARE about the work we do. So much so that at certain points I’ve even refused to make rings for people because they either had stupid ideas or the person just rubbed me the wrong way. (For those of you who don’t remember, let me recall one of the more delightful rejection appreciation letters I’ve received.)
Where do we get off? Because all of us (yes, even the Deadringer guys – who may actually be the nicest guys on the planet – officially) take pride in the fact that the work we make really isn’t for everyone. It’s a select group of people who are interested in hand-made custom jewelry anyway and an even smaller group that can actually pull off a skull on a finger, around a neck, or pinned to a lapel.
Imagine my joy at discovering that Alexander McQueen 2011 Fall catalogue is chock fuckin’ full of skulls. Skull everything. It’s like a goddamned skull grenade blew up in Saks Fifth Avenue and covered watches, wallets, cufflinks, ties, scarves, and shoes with all manner of silver and gold skullwork. This is on the heels (no pun intended) of his 2010 release of a woman’s high-heeled shoe with a skull right above the toe.
I didn’t mind this so much. I thought – hey, that’s….a skull on a shoe. Would look good underneath the right pair of legs, I suppose. But this fall, man, they’re everywhere.
It’s a complicated thing. On one hand, I’m glad that skulls are making it into the mainstream. Why wouldn’t I be? For those of us in the dog-house crowd, this is great news. Right? After all, this means that people who never would have worn skull jewelry before will not be interested in putting a skull around their neck, on their lapel, or on a middle finger. If you thought it was hard to get a Tony Creed skull before, wait until this shit hits. Alexander McQueen is no slouch. This is bound to send new clients to all of us in the custom skull doghouse who know and expect to pay custom prices for custom work. Who’d have thought that would be a rarity?
On the other hand…..
These supposed new clients I mention look like this:
“Give me a skull ring or I’ll slap you with my SASS!”
And I LOVE putting my stuff on the glitterati crowd, okay? I live in Atlanta and we have no shortage of hi-fashion urban royalty and many of them can rock a skull as good as any biker or pirate ever born.
Maybe I can put a skull on his too-short pants. This young fellow (evidently dressed as H.W. from ‘There Will be Blood’ ) may be wearing a wardrobe that costs more than my car, but that’s the problem isn’t it? This level of fashion and jewelry is based on cost and brand and not so much quality. Also, much of it is purely cosmetic. These punks had absolutely no fucking interest in wearing a skull ring until Alexander McQueen’s company TOLD them they should be wearing a skull ring.
And what skull ring should they be wearing? Well, it depends on your tastes, right? I’ve got big, realistic skulls like the King:
I’ve got stylized stuff with wild and crazy lines like the Big Voodoo:
and I’ve got clean stuff like the Mystery Cave:
And that’s just me. Creed’s got his wild-man jeweled stuff. Stephen and Mark have their New Zealandish pirate-looking hyper-detailed skulls and demons. Dave’s got his simplified old-school classics. Armand has his British death-metal stuff. Julian owns the highly gemstoned velvet and ruby styles. Point is, there’s so much variety when it comes to the individual designers, what will these new feverish fans of the skull choose to wear?
They’ll want to wear this:
Why? Because it’s from McQueen. These motherfuckers are between 2 and 3 hundred dollars a pop and many aren’t even real gemstones or solid gold/silver. They’re not custom. They are off-the-rack and it costs more than TWO Dave’s custom skulls or THREE Little Voodoos.
I don’t own one (obviously) but I’d venture to say they are likely hollow-backed as well. Enjoy, jackasses. If you want to spend your bank on the same shopping-mall trinket that every other “i saw this on the Today Show” lemming is wearing, go for it.
The site offers solid silver bangles for over 500 bucks, in case you’d like to get fleeced that way also.
Visit Alexander McQueen’ site. Which looks like this:
And see for yourself.
I’m not bashing him. After all, he’s deceased and the entire brand’s creative direction is now in the hands of a Sarah-somebody. Further, the guy was a genius in many respects. To boot, me or anyone else in the custom doghouse bashing a guy like McQueen is about as relevant to the fashion world as the guy who sells hotdogs at a Yankees game complaining about Derek Jeter’s batting average.
No. What I’m doing here is pleading with you. Imploring you. If the skull craze hits…..when everyone and their brother is looking for that perfect jewelry piece….. DON’T fall for expensive off-the-rack stuff. Go custom. TRULY custom. (“custom” is a word that gets thrown around an awful lot…more on that later.) Get yourself sized and get yourself over to that small town. Find the shitty road shack. Go to the backyard and checkout the dog house. Let one of us dogs carve up a piece of jewelry JUST FOR YOU. Wear it knowing that nobody – truly no one else – has a ring like yours. It was made for you.
Maybe then you’ll see that all anyone ever wants is to be part of the dog house. They want to be special. Small. Exclusive. Part of a pack. And for all their fame, for all their money, with as many people who flock to the shopping malls to pick up their stuff….they’re just not.
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Wow. Great rant.
I totally agree with you – when counterculture iconography goes mainstream fashion, it’s like a knife in the gut.
The best example is Ed Hardy®.
Now, I know Ed Hardy (not Ed Hardy®, the brand, but Don Ed Hardy, the man). He’s one of us – a crazy counter-culture artist. He’s a grouchy curmudgeon and a very, very real guy.
What happened, though, to Ed Hardy® the brand is bizarre tragicomedy. Ed did nothing but agree to let a guy (Christian Audigier) license the name and some of Ed’s basic flash. Christian, being the right guy at the right time with the right product, had an incredible runaway success on is hands. These products went into top dollar boutiques in top fashion cities; hollywood and the world’s rich and fabulous all bought in.
Only the products – despite having some cool flash – lacked any taste, originality, or sincerity. They were rebel as product.
Now – seven years later – nothing says ‘douchebag’ like someone decked in Ed Hardy® clothing. It’s become a joke, the very model of unhip wannabe. It’s a soccer mom and divorced dad style.
Ed himself thinks it’s all funny (as he cashes huge checks and no longer has to work – ever – unless he feels like it).
But the problem? Ed changed the tattoo industry. Not alone – there were others along the way (Lyle Tuttle, Leo Zulueta, Mike ‘Rollo’ Malone, etc). But arguably, Ed was the guy who took it out of the alleys and docs and into art galleries. And now, instead of being seen for the massive cultural contribution, he’s going to be remembered as a line of cheesy clothing.
You can’t argue with McQueen’s choices; he likes cool stuff, and as top designers go, he’s not as bad as most. But a line of tacky, dumbed-down skull jewelry doesn’t do anyone any good, aside from the people in line to dip money out of the stream it all generates.
Always, I’d rather put money in the hands of people who make things, than in the hands of those who just sell them.
Very well put. Yeah, that Hardy thing totally pisses me off. People without the balls to actually get a tattoo can now wear one on their necktie while they’re having soy late frapps. The ‘Affliction’ shirts are going to cross a similar line soon, I’m afraid. Your’e right too, that you can’t blame the designers. They’re only producing what people say they want. Your tattoo posts are always great. I had a feeling you’d hate that Hardy shit as much as I do.