October 27 2009
There is something about quirky cufflinks that I used to find deeply unsettling. To me they were like a silent scream that cried “creative individual trapped inside this boring work suit desperately trying to get out”. They reminded me of a pet bird we had when I was growing up. It used to clamp its little feet firmly to the bar of its cage and flap its wings so ferociously you’d think it was trying to take off into outer space. It was that feeling of entrapment that drove me to work in fashion in the first place, the permission to be entirely myself and to wear whatever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want.
And so it was with some surprise that I found myself a few months ago in the Mayfair emporium of jewellery artists Wright & Teague, transfixed by a pair of hand-made, solid silver, bee-shaped cufflinks that were destined to cure me of my phobia. Bees are a particular favourite of co-owner Gary Wright, who featured flies in his graduate collection when he studied jewellery design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and first made bee cufflinks in the 1970s. Twenty-five years later they are still a fundamental part of the duo’s jewellery collection and have become a bestseller in their expanding men’s range.
What drew me to them was their inherent masculinity. They look a little scary but are very beautiful at the same time. They have a hand-crafted and organic sensibility that counterbalances the fact that they are almost life-like in their execution. But, more than anything else, they make me smile a lot. They were the talk of my youngest brother’s wedding, which is the event that I bought them for. And each time I have worn them since, they have never gone without comment. They also come in yellow and rose gold and platinum. Maybe it’s time to trade up.
Silver bee cufflinks: £445; 18ct yellow gold and 18ct rose gold, £1,950; platinum, £3,900.