When superstars Hrithik Roshan, Zayed Khan, Fardeen Khan and Salman Khan walked the ramp recently to unveil jewellery designer Farah Khan’s men’s line, the event was hailed as yet another sign-of-the-metrosexual-times. But truth be told, the Indian maharaja was flashing his trinkets decades before the word ‘cool’ was even invented.
Says Khan, “I wanted to do a line of men’s jewellery but felt the timing wasn’t right earlier. It’s been part of our culture since the maharajas existed, but this seemed to phase out with time.”
Lords of the ring: The return of bling can also be attributed to the trendsetting hip hop culture brought about by rappers like Nelly and music artists P diddy, formerly known as Puff Daddy, who sport some serious jewellery — read: diamond studs and dollar-sign pendants.
Khan agrees, “It took hip hop to bring the bling back into men’s wardrobes. It is of course just another case of aping the West but we can’t deny that the hip hop culture has done it’s bit to revive the trend of men wearing jewellery. That’s what prompted me to do my line at this time.”
It does seem like she’s bang on. Today, no one bats an eyelid at the likes of Salman Khan, when he clips on his baalis, Nikhil Chinnapa, when he slips on his numerous rings; or designer Arjun Khanna, when he puts on his silver chains.
“Jewellery is not a necessity, but it does complete a look,” says Khanna, who adds in bits of caricatured jewellery to his designs and gets them especially made even while his outfits go through numerous trials and retrials in preparation for the ramp.
Currently, Khanna says he is “on a Buddhist culture trip” and is enjoying wearing his Buddhist pendant, madala and beads in addition to his trademark silver jewellery, which he thinks is perfect for men.
“Silver jewellery is cool,” proclaims the designer. Gods of rock But as comedian and TV star Ash Chandler, who proudly shows off his platinum wedding band, puts it, “to each his own.” Chandler, who had a matching set of platinum wedding bands made when he and wife Nethra Raghuraman tied the knot, admits to being partial to wearing hoops, at one time.
“I was in a band back then in the 80’s and I guess baalis were cool at the time. It was a phase I went through, but now I prefer wearing just my ring. I don’t think jewellery is necessary, you should wear whatever works for you,” avers the now hoopless Chandler.
Like women’s jewellery, when it comes to men’s jewellery, craftsmanship and originality play a very vital role. Some men are also known to sport antique jewellery. Khan’s husband DJ Aqueel is known for his penchant for jewellery and has even bought a pendant from his wife’s collection.
In fact, rappers aside, celebritydom is peppered with bling-wearers — Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt, singer Lenny Kravitz and actor Orlando Bloom.
Man’s best friend: diamonds Tiffany & Co. has for some time now been retailing men’s jewellery, including rings, pendants and bracelets. Icecool, a UK-based company, manufactures chains, cufflinks, pendants, studs (tongue/eyebrow) and rings. It also offers bespoke services for rings with platinum and diamonds. Something Khan says she would love to do more of.
“Though I don’t get too many orders for custommade jewellery, I have done a few pieces, including some for my husband. I would love to design custom-made jewellery pieces for men in films,” says Khan, who adds that diamonds have proven to be a man’s best friend as well.
“The kind of jewellery that a man wears has a lot to do with personal taste. I can’t think of one particular metal that suits men, but diamonds suit a lot of men. Then again, some prefer angular cuts while others prefer baguettes,” she points out.
Heavy metal bands Khan’s jewellery line includes pendants, medallions, rings, bracelets, cufflinks for kurtas and sherwanis all priced between Rs 20,000 up to a lakh, which is what sherwani diamond buttons would cost. The UK-based Icecool company’s jewellery ranges between £125 to £325.
However, for jewellery aficionados like Khanna, the price of his bling is not really important. “For me jewellery is about enhancing an outfit. I custom-made a silver taviz which I used to wear all the time because I liked it; the price was incidental. I also love picking up pieces whenever I travel. It’s like a memoir for me. For instance, I recently went to Sri Lanka and bought a fishbone pendant with wooden beads. Now when I wear it I think about where I bought it from and it will remind me of my trip. I think jewellery makes wonderful souvenirs .”
The reality that men’s jewellery is a way of life is something that is played out every Saturday night, in Johannesburg’s Jeppe Hostel where men wearing their best suits, ties and cufflinks line up for the oswenka (which translates to swank) competition — to vie for the best-dressed award.
The competitors might be from South Africa’s poorest communities and the winner goes home $6 richer or with a cow or a goat (depending upon whether it’s festive season) but the real prize for these men is the feel of a fine-looking suit, the sparkle of gold cufflinks and the cheers of an admiring audience that pays 50 cents a head to see ordinary men shine.