Once primarily the preference of women-of-a-certain-age, the brooch is back and a new generation is discovering them–and not just women.
For men it’s an opportunity to make a statement and add a flourish to a somber suit. At many of 2020’s cinema awards ceremonies, men made all manner of lapel pins and brooches a key part of their look.
The range of styles and versatility is one reason why everyone is favouring all manner of brooches and pins whether minimalist, abstract or figural options in precious or semi-precious metals, or the bold and bejeweled.
Throughout history, brooches have served both practical and symbolic purposes. As early as 400 BC, brooches were essentially metal fasteners for garments but being so prominently placed, they quickly became equally decorative, often in the form of hunting bows before evolving into shields, birds, and other zoomorphic creatures.
By the Renaissance (1300 – 1600) brooches became pure ornamentation and began incorporating precious gems and pearls.Gems were often selected for their protective properties as well as for their vibrant colours. The upper classes favoured emeralds, diamonds, rubies, amethyst, and topaz. Some featured religious themes or enamelled portraits hidden inside.
Victorian period mourning brooches are an acquired taste but despite their rather maudlin origin (mourning the loss of a loved one), there is something creepy-cool about wearing one that features such things as intricately woven baby hair–usually a deceased baby. Nevertheless, today Victorian mourning brooches are especially sought after by collectors.
In the 20th century, men mostly wore discreet lapel pins, whether for a fraternal order, a member’s club, or to commemorate their military service. But with the 21st century, men have evolved towards all manner of jewelry and now brooches are part of their aesthetic arsenal.
At the 2020 Academy Awards, Timothée Chalamet sported an Art Deco-inspired 1955 Cartier brooch which was casually attached to a simple zip-up jacket by Prada.
While at the Golden Globes, Billy Porter chose a diamond Tiffany dragonfly. Some, like actor Stephen James and Michael B. Jordan, even turned earrings into brooches — and why not?