Why the glass accessory trend is worth trying
For a fashion show to survive its meager 15 minutes of existence, it must feature memorable moments that lend themselves to going viral – a model strutting with Frank Sinatra in a fetish Balenciaga x Adidas latex suit or Nicolas Ghesquière doing relive the controversial and illogical Carrie Look Bradshaw of wearing an eyelet belt directly on your torso (see: Louis Vuitton Cruise 2033). On Coperni’s Fall ’22 runway, it was Gigi Hadid wearing a devil-horned version of her all-glass Swipe Bag. Made in partnership with a subversive glassware brand Heventhe handbag became a cult favorite on social media — and the catalyst for fashion’s current glass accessory trend — almost immediately after the show wrapped.
Shortly after, the bag made its red carpet debut to not one but two celebrities: Doja Cat and Tinashe both wore it to the 2022 Grammys. not stop there: a few days later, Kylie Jenner posted the piece to her Instagram, using its sheer nature to flaunt two Kylie Cosmetics lip products. “Put anything on a Kardashian or a Jenner, and it’ll pop. People love it,” Breana BoxHeven’s co-creator tells TZR over the phone.
“[Coperni creative director] Sebastien Meyer DMed me on Instagram a month out from the show and said he wanted to collaborate on something,” Box explains of how this whole project started. After a Zoom call with the Coperni team, Box and his co-founder and love partner, Pierre Dupont, jumped into the studio. “It was really a trial and error process. Some of our early prototypes were successful, and some almost blew up in our faces,” says Dupont. Eventually, alongside a glassblower named Josh Raiffe, the technique streamlined and the end results were functional bags made entirely from less-than-functional material.Heven was able to offer Coperni three iterations of its iconic Swipe Bag: the translucent style adorned with Hadid’s devil horns, one done in a mirror-like chrome and the other in an opaque blue gradient.
“We are not technically trained at all. We’re like jazz players – we just go with the flow,” Box shares, explaining how she got into glassblowing through a class bought on Groupon (!) at the start of the pandemic. Some might even go so far as to call Heven’s glassblowing methods, well, guilty. It is, after all, a craft known for its strict devotion to tradition, and Box and Dupont are determined to buck convention in favor of self-reliance. The modified demon horns of their now famous glass Swipe Bag, for example, are one of their signatures.
fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman Campbell explains that the duo’s groundbreaking approach likely plays a big part in why the glass handbag has become such a hit. “Fashion has to constantly raise the stakes to stand out, especially on the red carpet or in the crowded social media landscape,” says Chrisman-Campbell, adding that novelty is paramount above all else. What came before no longer has any juice: “Nude dresses, for example, are no longer shocking or even surprising, while baked glass accessories still attract attention.
Some of the buzz can perhaps be attributed to the delicate nature of the medium. “We try to make the bags as light and strong as possible but, you know, they’re always glass,explains Dupont. “But I think that’s also part of the appeal and what makes it a luxury item. They’re fragile, you have to be careful.
You cannot swing the Glass Swipe Bag around randomly or take it out with you while you sip a few cocktails – it is a very breakable accessory and should be treated as such. They also have a surreal quality, which only adds to bags like works of art. “Surrealism is built on incongruity,” chimes Chrisman-Campbell. “Glass does this on many levels, emphasizing the tension between revealing and hiding, utilitarian and decorative, strong and fragile.”
Joan of Arensburg, a Brooklyn-based artist who creates wearable glass art through her eponymous brand, loves the material precisely for its fragility, saying she thinks it produces a humbling effect. “I like to think that wearing glass jewelry is grounded,” she told TZR. “The types of glass I use, Pyrex and borosilicate, are some of the strongest and surprisingly durable. I have clients who never take off their glass jewelry, even at the gym,” says the craftswoman “Even still, the concept and experience of wearing a material known for its fragility can ground you.” It’s a reminder to be mindful, because one wrong move and your special piece is no more, its beauty wasted into nothing more than shards on the floor.
D’Arensbourg theorizes that people now seek out glass extras because of their translucency, which she finds refreshing, lucid, and honest. “There’s been a lot of time to reflect over the past two years and collectively aren’t we all looking for some clarity in these troubled times?”
“There has also been a trend to appreciate handmade products and small, independent designers and craftsmen,” says D’Arensbourg. “People think more about investing in a special, one-of-a-kind accessory rather than something that’s mass-produced and will fall apart as quickly as a trend changes.”
Dupont de Heven echoes D’Arensbourg, pointing to the recent boom in crochet and knitting and the many artisans who have turned their pandemic-induced hobbies into full-fledged businesses. “These are practices that people can identify with and understand, or at least have an idea of,” explains the designer. “[They’re like,] “It makes sense to me – I know it’s handmade and by someone who loves what they do.” “It helps people feel more connected to each other, says Dupont, because it’s a union created by a labor of love.
Dalya Benorwriter and founder of the jewelry brand Tutti Bene, personally reconnects with old craftsmen by creating new works in vintage glass beads, especially those from the Italian region of Murano. “I like to play with the tension between luxury and quality in conjunction with a fluid, organic, handmade aesthetic,” she told TZR via email. “Italian glass and Murano beads were the fundamental inspiration for Tutti Bene, but I also source beads from around the world. They all come together to tell a story in the finished piece.
For Annika Ines, a jewelry artist who prominently uses glass in her work, the medium’s appeal lies in its inherent contradictions. “I’m drawn to glass because it’s a statement, but barely there – it seems fluid but also frozen in time,” Inez illustrates. “My shapes are created with the material in mind and not to go against its natural quality because you can shape the glass without ever fully controlling it.”
D’Arensbourg, like Inez, also lets glass take over in her work. “The technique I use to make my glass jewelry is known as ‘flame work’, which I often describe as welding with glass,” she explains. “I can sketch an idea on paper, but most of the time my ideas come to fruition directly on the torch,” says D’Arensbourg. “Glass has a mind of its own, so I listen to what it wants to do rather than force it.”
“Hand-blown glass will always have different idiosyncrasies from the process, so it never feels factory-made or streamlined,” Dupont says as his conversation with Box draws to a close. “And I think that’s definitely part of how we deal with what happened and what’s happening. [in the world] – we are looking for things that have a certain reality.