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Latest fashion in faux jewelry: Metallic tattoos

November 17, 2014

Temporary silver and gold metallic tattoos are worn by Nomi Channapragada-Bui, owner of One Stop Beauty Supply & Salon in Huntington Beach, Calif., who loves the "active" wearable art which doesn't jingle. It is easy to apply and can be scrubbed off.

ORANGE COUNTY, Ca. — From across the room, they appear to be gold and silver bracelets that fit snugly on a wrist or necklaces that rest against the collarbone. But up close, you realize you’re looking at optical illusions: The jewelry is actually a stack of temporary metallic tattoos, one of the biggest accessory trends of the year.

The designs include feathers, twisted ropes, Greek keys, geometric shapes, Egyptian and Native American motifs and words in cursive. They come in a small sheet and are fairly easy to apply: Cut the design from the sheet, peel the plastic cover, place carefully on the skin, dab the sheet with a wet cloth, hold sheet in place from 30 seconds to a minute, remove sheet gently and voila, instant skin jewelry.

Photos of celebrities adorned with faux jewelry tattoos — from Beyoncé to Sarah Jessica Parker to Vanessa Hudgens — and the surge of new brands are pushing the trend into mainstream America.

But the most influential factor that makes women want to try one is seeing the jewelry tattoo on someone.

"One of our customers — blonde, pretty, mid-30s — came in wearing one," said Nomi Channapragada-Bui, owner of One Stop Beauty Supply & Salon in Huntington Beach, Ca. "It caught our eye instantly. Also, Pinterest provided a wealth of images of people using the metallic tattoos. … Social media has played a large role in the sharing of this trend."

Channapragada-Bui has been wearing tattoos on her wrist, arms, neck, back and ankles everywhere she goes, and she began selling the tattoos by the sheet at all three locations of her shop recently. She gets stopped and asked about them a lot.

"Men and women alike are fascinated by the look of metallic tattoos," she said. "They cause a commotion and are great attention-getters," she said. "Be ready to explain what it is because people are very intrigued and confused about how it is worn and stays on the skin and tend to ask questions like, ‘Where did you get that?’ ‘Did you put that on yourself?’ ‘How long does it stay on?’ and ‘Can I touch it?’"

The origin of jewelry-inspired faux tattoos is not clear, but in February 2010, Chanel offered limited-edition Les Trompe L’Oeil de Chanel Temporary Skin Art designed by former global creative director Peter Philips. They were based on the fake tattoos of necklaces, chain bracelets and chain garters that models wore on the runway during the Paris spring collections preview in late 2009. The group of 55 designs was priced at $75.

In late 2010, Beyoncé’s company, House of Dereon, and Temptu launched their collection of jewelry-inspired black temporary tattoos for $16-$34.

But both collections were predominantly in matte black and definitely looked like body art rather than jewelry.

Maybe it’s Dior that truly gave the trend a big boost. In 2012, the French maison launched its Les Ors de Peau, a decadent nine-piece collection designed by Dior’s costume jewelry designer, Camille Miceli. The limited-edition tattoos were made of 24-karat gold micro-particles and cost $120.

The current crop of faux jewelry tattoos is far more affordable and usually priced from $5 to $10 per sheet of designs.

Flash Tattoos, one of the earliest brands on the market, has seven collections, ranging from $22 to $30. Each usually has four sets of designs.

"The idea sparked while I was creating mood boards for inspiration on some new furniture projects that I was working on at the time," said Miranda Burnet, founder and designer of Flash Tattoos. "I came across an image of beautiful women applying intricate patterns of 24K gold leaf on their bodies in a magazine. … I wanted to put a fun spin on couture jewelry."

The majority of the collections are named according to the mood and style of the designs, Burnet said. "Others are inspired by travel or inspirational people," she added. e

One of the collections is a collaboration with jewelry company Child of Wild; another was guest-designed by Los Angeles-based fashion blogger Rebekah Steen.

For Lulu deKwiatkowski, founder and creative director of Lulu DK fabrics and wallcoverings, a tattoo line was a natural extension of her lifestyle lines that include bags, furnishings and T-shirts.

"Lulu’s sister came home from Italy with a gold tattoo that she had found overseas," said Natalie Costantino, spokeswoman for Lulu DK. "Lulu jumped on the idea and did her own version of bold fashionable designer tattoos that double as jewelry. … Our Love Story and La Femme collections are directly taken from her original artwork."

Other brands have popped up, including Hot Jewels and Core.

The tattoos appear to appeal to a wide age range. Some women, especially those in their late teens and 20s, wear the jewelry more like body art, while women older than 40 are more likely to wear the tattoos as though they were bracelets and necklaces, Channapragada-Bui said.

Some men are giving the skin jewelry a try, but usually for events and concerts. "Surprisingly enough, we saw a lot of guys wearing them at (the Austin City Limits music festival) this year," Burnet said.

The best thing about the jewelry tattoos, Channapragada-Bui said, is that they last only four to six days and can be removed with baby oil or olive oil and a cotton ball.

"It’s not a permanent commitment," she said.

 

 



Associated Press