11/12/1984 at 01:00 AM EST
Circumstance has long influenced the fashion business, and now comes Pomp. This fall, blazing across chests—male and female—is a pageantry of Maltese crosses, heraldic crests, coats of arms and enough other medals to make Michael Jackson blush. Would-be heroes and great pretenders are cavalier about where to pin their ornaments: hatbands, handbags, lapels, vest pockets, even shoulder blades are duly festooned. "It's absolutely the biggest thing happening in the jewelry business right now," says Seventh Avenue designer Richard Serbin. Adds Ann Peerce of New York's jewelry firm Peerce and Rein, "It's a fun, whimsical way of relieving the drabness of menswear-inspired designs."
The whimsy began showing itself in Europe a few years ago, when kids started wearing clusters of thrift shop pins and badges. Then earlier this year, Italian designer Giorgio Armani created his own $165 rhinestone Maltese cross. Other designers rushed to the foundry, turning out versions of medals and crests ranging from $16 to $7,800 for a platinum cross encrusted with green diamonds and a rare garnet by Los Angeles designer Lee Brevard. "People seem like they're getting hungry for war," notes Brevard. Michael, Boy George, Charlotte Rampling, the Eurythmics' Annie Lennox and other medal maniacs seem to have heard the battle cry.
Designers are worried that the trend won't win any medals for longevity. While it lasts, though, the fad is proving therapeutic. "When you're feeling blue," says New York designer Timothy Biel, "what could be better than decorating yourself for valor?"