Zip inspiration Featured

The utilitarian zip fastener has found its way into top fashion and jewellery

It's an amazingly useful gadget, enabling just about anything to be opened and closed with a quick tug, whether it be a garment, a bag, a boot, a tent, harness, suitcase... Its two rows of shiny teeth have also become an iconic motif used by jewellers and fashion designers.

In actual fact, this is nothing recent at all. The zip fastener itself dates back to 19th century America, invented specifically for boots, and it appeared in jewellery as early as 1938, when the Duchess of Windsor asked Renée Puissant, artistic director at Van Cleef & Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef's daughter, to design a piece based on the zip. It was only made in 1951, and became iconic for the brand. Below, some historic Van Cleef & Arpels zip necklaces.

The remarkable feature of Van Cleef & Arpel's zip necklaces, in their various forms, is that the closure actually slides, so that its shape can be modified. It can even be completely closed to create a bracelet.

This women's watch (below) by Piaget was inspired by men's dress uniforms, but it still looks more to me like a zip with a loop. It's a very original way of integrating a watch into a bracelet.

Stella McCartney's zip-edged bags became a must-have when they first appeared, and they reappear every season in new variants. Below, a piece from the spring-summer 2012 collection.

Alexander Wang's zip-framed sunglasses date back to a few seasons ago, and they are now a frequent feature in his collections.

We look forward to seeing the new jewellery pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels, in particular a new "Zip Fascination" necklace for autumn-winter 2012. Meanwhile, the zip continues its history as both utilitarian and trendy... and its battle with the button!