In recent years, fashion has taken a strong interest in the mystic. There’s no escaping the whiff of sage smoke and talk of crystals and chakras. Now, the fashion industry has turned to the nazar, or evil eye. Often seen on everyday items, it has jumped from a decorative object to fashion must-have. The evil eye amulet is most commonly in the form of a blue glass bead. It is a charm meant to ward off curses and devious glares of envy. It can be traced as far back to Ancient Greece and was later used by the Assyrians, Phoenicians, and Ottomans. It stems from the belief that you can be cursed if praised too much, becoming enveloped in the negative attention of the envious. It’s thought that the person would become so overtaken with pride that they would bring about their own destruction by way of the evil eye.
Of all the sacred and mystical objects, the evil eye has remained after thousands of years. Vogue Arabia cover star Gigi Hadid carries an evil eye charm that she’s owned since she was a girl – she picked up the talisman during a trip to Jordan for a cousin’s wedding. She considers that it connects with positive energy and serves as a reminder to let go of bad vibes. Should a person “throw shade” with the intent to bring harm or bad luck, it can safeguard its owner.
The magic of the nazar has captured the traveling eye of the fashion industry. At New York fashion week, it appeared at Anna Sui. The designer included the print along with a poetic parade of Sixties patterns. At Gucci SS18, you could spot the eye on a red grained leather tote. Featuring tears dripping from its lashes, the eye is positioned under the word “goodbye” written in graphic font. Alessandro Michele took it to a more literal form by adding a third eyeball to the models’ foreheads for the brand’s FW18 collection. The eye was also seen at Libertine, where it was covered in sequins and placed front and center on dresses and jackets. No shady glances permitted here. This spring, if you’re searching for a kaftan to fend off both rays and stares alike, look no further than Bonita Ka an at Sauce, which offers gigantic, glitzy evil eyes against white and black billowing cloth.
There is also a return to jewelry that not only provides some sparkle, but also a kind of “magical” protection. If you’re looking for ancient imagery with a little more bling, Sue Gragg Precious Jewels offers a diamond-studded ring with an eye that can be painted to match your own. Bil Arabi’s evil eyes are dusted with diamond lashes, enamel liner, and calligraphy. Few do the eye more justice right now than Lito Fine Jewelry. Lito Karakostanoglou’s bold enamel eyes go beyond jewelry via its recent collection with l’Objet. When asked if she considers her lineup of eyes to provide the same type of protective qualities of ancient amulets, the designer says, “We call the eye collection Tu es partout. It is to remind us that ‘our eye’ is always with us, guarding us in every moment. It also serves to remind us that we should be present at all times in our life. Every time one of our pieces breaks, we consider it a good thing. It means that all the bad energy went to the eye and not to the person.”
With this reemergence of the evil eye’s popularity, it appears as though this symbol will live on for another thousand years. As for its place in fashion, Karakostanoglou shrugs, “We all want to feel protected and safe. What better than to feel protected and elegant at the same time?”
Originally printed in the May 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.