There’s something in the air this summer that has all of my friends hankering for a piercing: a second earlobe hole (eighth grade-style), a cartilage loop, even a nipple ring (barbell, rather—chicer than a hoop). J. Colby Smith, the in-house needle wizard at Love, Adorned, isn’t surprised: “Piercings always come in waves—I believe that there’s a mass consciousness, that somehow people just pick up on,” he says. “There are certain weeks where there are obvious influxes of one thing. I’ve always wanted to chart it, like do a Piercing Almanac or something. [Laughs]”
A piercing almanac is just the sort of thing that might be sold at Love, Adorned, a special kind of concept store on Elizabeth Street in New York. It opened up in December but stemmed from New York Adorned, a tattoo and piercing studio on 2nd Avenue, which is temporarily closed for renovations. I’d visited the original before, and, in all honesty—the Elizabeth Street location is a whole new bag, baby. While beautiful fine jewelry from mostly-local designers has always been a focus for owner Lori Leven, she’s now expanded the offerings to home and beauty—including Embryolisse creams and Intelligent Nutrients essential oils. The curly neon sign out front lures you in to the airy, sky-lit boutique and before you know it, you’re seated on the velvet Victorian couch giddily waiting for your turn with Colby. “People wander in without knowing that piercings are even done here, they’ll look around, they look at stuff, feel comfortable, and then they realize it’s a piercing studio, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you know, I’ve always wanted that thing…’” he says. “I think piercing and tattoo shops can be really intimidating to walk into; even I get intimidated. But people don’t come in here with the same apprehensions as they might at other places.”
Case in point: Laura Vidrequin, an assistant buyer at Atrium who was perusing the cases of jewelry while her friend got his hair cut at nearby Freeman’s. She didn’t have any piercings when she moved from Paris to New York a year ago, and now she has, “like, six,” delicate gold hoops in her ears. She’s admittedly low maintenance and very French at the same time (“I don’t wear makeup ever, but anytime I have something on my skin it’s Chanel,”) and she embodies the kind of girls who are getting a little something here, or a little something there, these days. Colby sees “anyone from an opera singer, to a ballerina, to models” on a given Saturday, but maintains, “We kind of just do the classic stuff—we keep it tasteful. I think people have a perception of piercing that you have to be extreme, or heavily modified, and that’s not necessarily the case.” The trend this summer? “One nipple piercing, on girls, is really in style. There are a lot of models who have it and have been showing it in magazines—Freja Beha, Erin Wasson, Candice Swanepoel, Rosie Huntington [Whiteley], they’ve all kind of showed it.” The piercing jewelry is all the way in the back of the store, displayed on Plexiglass cubes and organized according to metal type. On the day I visited, I wanted the smallest gold hoop available for the mid-earlobe—just above a hole I’d gotten at seventeen, which I’d sworn had closed up. “No, it didn’t,” Colby said after one look. “I’ll bet you a dollar.” I took the bet then surrendered the dollar five minutes later, realizing the hole was tight but not lost. He tossed the bill into a tip jar near another George Washington, scrawled with “You were right, Asshole,” from an earlier client who was told by Mr. Smith that getting her septum (the middle of the nose) pierced wasn’t going to hurt.
None of the jewelry in the store is cheap—chalk it up to the premium value of gold at the moment—and the piercing jewelry is no exception, unless you go for surgical stainless steel, which is the most popular option for the initial round. “I think the steel comes across very college-y,” Colby admits, “So we see a lot of people transitioning from that to gold or rose gold when they’re working and finally making some money—all the surgical steel is coming out and the gold is going in. The fake CZs are coming out and the real diamonds are going in.” Do yourself a favor: don’t make bets with Colby and opt for the 18k.
Love, Adorned 269 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012 Tel: 212-431-5683