Isadora Duncan would have loved them. Flamboyant, feminine and, yes, something of a pain in the neck, shoulder-brushing earrings are the rage of the Paris and New York shows. And unbelievable (i.e., unwearable) as they seem, come springtime, these dangerous-looking danglers are likely to make heads turn—and bend—off the runway too.

To the designers who display them—from top dogs Romeo Gigli and Karl Lagerfeld to newcomer Charlotte Neuville—the earrings signal a movement away from aggressive, masculine shapes. "It's part of a new softness," says Rebecca Voight, a Paris-based Women's Wear Daily editor. Or as Lagerfeld less delicately puts it, "They even make a thick neck look fragile."

Credited with fathering haute couture's newly fragile femininity is Gigli, the Italian designer who threw away shoulder pads to drape soft, lean clothes on will-o'-the-wisp models. That look also made the chandelier-like earrings possible. Says Cynthia Rybak off, the jewelry designer who dreamed up Neuville's danglers: "Gigli's bare-and narrow-shouldered look creates the right stage, because there's nothing to interfere with the earrings' lines."

Except, perhaps, common sense. Even Lagerfeld, who shows his own shoulder-length earrings, thinks that at mid-chest, "Gigli goes too far." Oh, pish-posh. Says Karen Erickson, partner of Eric Beamon, the designer who created some of Gigli's first chandel-ears: "I'm five feet, and I wear them all the time."