Male warriors and leaders of old, possibly even back to the pharaohs of Egypt, wore - and often were buried in - beefy, blinged-out bangles known as Armills. These bracelets symbolized prowess in battle, military leadership and elevated social status.
The velvet-lined, enameled armill at right was made for the coronation of Charles II in 1661, and used at every subsequent coronation until 1953. Interestingly, the Royal Collection Trust - which oversees Britain's 1 million+ object collection of fine and decorative arts collected over the past 500 years - notes that the raison d'etre of the Armill was a question mark as far back as 1661. "Already by that date," they explain, "their exact purpose during the coronation ceremony was unclear." (image: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015)
Maybe their job was just to be eyecatching.
Some things never change. Take the latest armill incarnation by Christophe & Co. Sumptuous to the point of being tacky, the more-is-more design comes courtesy of Pininfarina, the Italian powerhouse behind some of the sex-on-wheels otherwise known as Maserati and Ferrari. The armills are produced in Britain, starting with an inner frame made of carbon fiber which is then festooned with a range of materials, including high-tech ceramic, 18k gold and precious stones. Prices start at $75,000 with the Virtus, of which 300 models were made. The next step up is the $93,000 Orion (100 models), followed by the Apollo, of which only 25 were made, each costing a cool $149,000.
They are billed as wearable tech, this despite having no screen nor any way of inputting anything. Nary even a light or notification indicator. Although they do come with the option of embedding a Bluetooth-enabled hardware module plus a one-button valet press that alerts one's personal assistant's phone that their presence is required. And owning one does entitle the wearer to attend exclusive social events, access member clubs, get the VIP treatment at chichi restaurants and gain entry to sporting events that are sold-out to non-wearers. "Additionally, every year, we hold a very private member’s only event at an exotic location in the world featuring well known chefs and entertainment," notes the company. "Owning a Christophe & Co armill represents membership in one of the world’s most exclusive clubs."
Now if you, like me, were wondering what these pretty but puzzling baubles actually *do*, well, the street always finds its own uses for things. But until such time, the best I can suss out is that these armills exist to take status and exclusivity to a new level.
- Lesley Scott
This post was about the Supremium fashion tribe - spendy, style-conscious fashionistas that enjoy jetsetting, globetrotting and shopping their way across the globe. For more of my posts about the Supremiums, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.