At one point, facial jewelry was a symbol of anti-establishment street culture, and at others, a sign of avant-garde beauty. In some cultures, face jewelry may be a way to honor a goddess, and in others, a way to rebel. Recently, face jewelry even made headlines at Paris Fashion Week as one of the show-stopping beauty looks of the season.
Whether you love or hate it, one thing is for sure: Face bling has been and will be around for a very long time.
The appearance of the first piece of face jewelry is unknown, but ancient civilizations across the world have recorded its presence—from the Romans and Egyptians to the Australian Aboriginals. On islands now known as Alaskan territory, English artist John Webber captured many indigenous subjects wearing face jewelry.
Some kind of facial or hair jewelry is rooted in Indian ceremonial beauty looks. In fact, nose piercings are one way to honor the benevolent Hindi goddess Parvati. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century, just before Indian imperialism ended, did cultural motifs begin to appear in art and fashion.
The Sex Pistols, the Ramones, The Clash—it was the age of punk-rock and sticking it to the man. The best way, of course, was to dress with extremely unconventional style: dyed hair, spikes, ripped jeans and a whole mess of piercings and tattoos. Ironically, like many aspects of punk rock style, face piercings eventually became mainstream and socially acceptable.
For his spring '94 collection, Jean Paul Gaultier blended elements of motorcycle motifs with clip-on nose chains and ethnic-inspired tattoos. In fact, Gaultier was one of the first designers to incorporate heavily tattooed models in a fashion campaign.
In the mid-‘90s,Gwen Stefani was frequently seen sporting forehead decoration, including a bindi (a small dot worn on the lower center of the forehead)—something often worn for religious purposes. It was alleged that the No Doubt frontwoman's penchant for the Hindi adornment was influenced by then boyfriend and bandmate Tony Kanal's Indian heritage. The trendsetter received some backlash for what critics thought to be cultural approbation, as did other celebs, like Selena Gomez who wore a bindi for her "Come and Get It" performance in 2013.
Brow piercings went next level at the Rodarte spring 2014 runway show. Instead of the commonly-seen, one-off piercing, the Mulleavy sisters opted to complement their rocker-chic collections with several circular eyebrow rings that followed the line of the model's brow. It not only emphasized the collection's rebellious spirit but managed to look damn beautiful as well.
In the latest edition of fashion meet face jewelry, the Givenchy 2015 fall collection saw models strutting down the catwalk in edgy wares paired with slick baby bangs and a face full of temporary piercings, bridal jewelry and even mustaches. A Paris Fashion Week highlight, the Pat McGrath-concocted beauty looks made as many headlines as Riccardo Tisci's clothes.