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."
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.