Francesca Rowland’s graduate collection ‘The ’Person’ With The Pearl Earring’ explores themes of fashion, masculinity and gender within the jewellery world. She wanted to make a collection of jewellery that incorporated feelings of masculinity, femininity and disrupted the stereotypical gender norms that have been set around specific types of jewellery and who can wear them. Specifically focusing on Pearl Jewellery as it used to be a strong accessory for both men and women which then through time turned to a mainly female orientated gem. In todays fashion, more high profile, young famous men are starting to adopt the trend back. They have been seen adorning pearl necklaces, earrings and rings to red carpet events. However, what would have to change with the pearl to get normal men of todays age to see it as a more masculine accessory?
Along with the fashion trends of renaissance men and men of today, Francesca was also very inspired by the New Romantics movement, an era of gender bending with styles inspired by glam rock and period clothing, where the men would wear makeup and flamboyant clothing and the women wore short hair and suits. She wanted to design her ideas around this theme and with this specific fashion era in mind. To try and make the classic pearl more appealing to both genders, she looked at a new way to hold and display the pearl, she wanted to juxtapose the innocence and delicateness of the pearl with something harsher and sharper to bring the two stereotypical gender sides into one. To do this, along with the pearl, the main feature explored were fishhooks, a stereotypical ‘male’ object and seeing how she could combine the two water-based objects together and find a new way to make genderless modern pearl jewellery.
Instead of just looking at the classic stereotypes between masculinity and femininity, Francesca looked at the contrast between the elegant & delicate pearl and the thing that it is being paired with, something less sophisticated & durable, mirroring the idea of the contrast between the masculine and feminine. She still wanted to keep a ‘classic pearl earring’ in mind and designed thinking about variations of that however with a more contemporary view. After hand drawing up various combinations and variations of fishhook sizes and pearl placements, Francesca then made digital collages of her final designs and placed them onto an image of Harry Styles, her original muse for this collection. He is a high profile, straight male who dresses genderless and does not conform to typical gender stereotypes within his fashion choices, because of this Francesca thought he would be the perfect face for her designs.
This is Francesca’s final collection line up. Due to the corona virus pandemic, Francesca was only able to create designs 1-7 of her line up, and would have loved to see the rest of her collection come to life. The pieces made were constructed from a mixture of silver, gold plated brass and various baroque pearls. The rest of the collection would have predominately been constructed out of various sizes and shaped baroque pearls with various sized and shaped mini fishhooks incorporated within the designs. Francesca’s final line up illustrations have been painted by hand using gouache paint and in some images has also incorporated the use of collaging on photoshop to create a final collection of genderless pearl jewellery.