At the court of the Sun King, etiquette was codified, clothing was sumptuous. Courtiers could literally play peacocks wearing richly embroidered clothes, heeled shoes, etc. Today, the long-established male dress codes are experiencing their first cracks. Men are beginning to abandon formality in favor of fashion, whatever it may be. Observing, analyzing and reacting to these changes is the life of the artist and jeweler Husam El Odeh.
Men's jewelry from Husan El Odeh
Born in Germany to Lebanese and Palestinian parents, El Odeh, 43, came to jewelry through art. He "exchanged the canvas for the body," as he likes to say. El Odeh has been awarded by the British Fashion Council. In 2010, he received the Emerging Talent Award for Props. Seven years after the beginning of his professional and personal relationship with the Swedish designer Per Götesson. "Per was looking for someone to create jewelry, " explains the jeweler. "He came to my studio with seashells. We smoked a lot of cigarettes (which became an inspiration for the first collection, in the form of pins). We understood each other almost instantly, on a tactile level.»
Together, the pair set about imagining a nuanced and decorative approach to menswear using familiar materials in unexpected ways.
The future of masculinity, a story that is being written, is what obsesses Odeh. "Being a man is often about navigating through the sea of expectations," explains the designer, who exorcises them with jewelry that tests gender boundaries and assigns value to every everyday object. . Here is an interview with Vogue that helps to better understand Husam El Odeh's vision of men's jewelry:
How did you decide to become a jeweler?
I started out as a painter. In fact, I still sometimes sketch for projects. My work has always been centered on the body. It was therefore quite natural to move towards jewellery.
How do you work with Per?
Today we live together. Initial ideas often come from our daily experience, from things we observe about each other. Last season, it was a blackbirds nest in the jasmine that we see from our window that was the source of inspiration for the collection. We had really developed an obsession with this nest. It symbolized for us the accumulation of things, the creation of a home from the things around us. In the parade, these elements became nests of silver threads filled with things such as lighters, keys, etc. We often talk about topics like what it means to navigate our world as a man. I then try to find materials and objects that can fit into this thought, and that can be used to make jewelry for men.
How would you describe your style?
There is a touch of surrealism in my work. I like to leave things in suspense, as if the jewel posed a question. I love playing with meanings, juxtaposing materials. My German side allows me to obtain a visual balance. You get a result that is both messy and clean.
Why did you develop this taste for blending?
I think my job is very much about creating connections between people. This is why I refer a lot to everyday functional objects. I love to divert them from their function in order to give them a new meaning and a new symbolism. When you rely on easily recognizable things, it's possible to immediately establish a connection with the people who make up your audience, while giving them the opportunity to make it a part of themselves.
How is men's jewelry different from women's jewelry?
There are several things to consider. Sometimes men's jewelry is more restrictive, because men are much more concerned with embarrassment. You also have to take into account the size and the visual weight, which vary according to the type of jewel. Again, I think this has a lot to do with society's expectations of men and women. Of course, traditions are different. I really like playing with these elements. Rethinking what men's or women's jewelry is is something that is absolutely exciting from a designer's point of view.
Thoughts on the new man?
We often talk about this subject with Per. Being a man means having to face society's expectations of you, it's a lot of pressure. But I think the new generation is much more open to embracing their vulnerability. Looking for oneself, dreaming, these activities are often perceived as proof of weakness. However, it is much more difficult to be open-minded. You have to be much tougher and more self-confident to express sensitivity.
Why do men now wear more jewelry, in your opinion?
I think part of the credit goes to the fashion. In the end, speaking out as a man became a sign of strength and creativity rather than something to be embarrassed about. Even if we like to criticize social networks, in a way they have allowed people to exchange, to feel accepted. I saw this with my nieces and nephews who live in the countryside in Germany. When I compare them to my generation growing up in the 90s, I'm really happy to see that they don't reject certain bands like they did in my day.