A dire development over the past 10 years has been the clanking growth of ironmongery as an integral part of fashion. I’m thinking of all the hideously overdesigned industrial and tack-inspired handbags that even firms such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Gucci – once admired for their understated minimalism – have produced in a desperate attempt to broaden their customer base. Rivets, studs, snaffles, industrial fasteners – the whole desperate vocabulary of handbag design has become a fashion cliché of our time.
The result of these heavy, maladroit additions to leather bags is that it is not possible to clutter them up any further – the fashion for studded bags is surely coming to an end. So in 2006, sharp designers such as Miuccia Prada and Dolce & Gabbana took the logical next step and transferred all the rivets and studs to their clothing as well. The move was a vague nod to late-1970s and early-1980s punk.
The result, however, was about as convincing (and comfortable) a modern fashion statement as a 15th-century condottiere’s suit of armour would be. Were they giving us a new message? Leading the way forward? I think not. This new direction was as inelegant as, to use TS Eliot’s famous phrase, “a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire”.
And naturally, women followed this perverse lead. After all, the two Italian labels spearheading the new approach are sure-fire trendsetters with huge and loyal followings, not least among fellow designers, many of whom copy their example. Since 2008, studs are regularly smattered over everything from jackets and trousers to belts and shoes, with labels from Balmain to Miu Miu and Louboutin continuing to champion the punk look.
(First published January 2006)

Picture Source. Sunday Times, Style. Iain McKell