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Tortoiseshell Fashion

From Heirloom to DIY and Everything in Between

— January 2, 2009 — Art & Design
The tortoiseshell has long been a popular material for fashion and home accessories since the 1700s due to its rigid yet moldable nature.

We’ve found many uses for the material in the production of everyday goods from hair combs to guitar picks, knitting needles and eventually into fashion accessories such as sunglasses and jewelry.

As we’ve discovered newer and more ethical ways to reproduce the tortoiseshell pattern, we are now more able to integrate the classic pattern into different materials as more than just fashion accessories.

For the high rollers, Christie’s offers many timeless tortoiseshell craftsmanship with some dating back to 1755 and the late 19th century.

At a more recession-proof price range, there are many tortoiseshell fashion items from high-end to budget friendly designers that offer a nod to the hip 1950’s and swinging 1960’s style for your wardrobe. Though to keep the look from slipping into ‘oldie’ territory, try to look for a more eclectic way of wearing the pattern as part of your apparel and wear commercial tortoiseshell fashion items sparingly.

For the home, design houses such as Ochre create avant-garde chandeliers and furniture with the tortoiseshell pattern, and even Lowe’s Home and Hardware Centers offer a chance for the handy to try and make their own interpretation of the pattern to be painted as murals, picture frames, desk drawers, and many more household items.

Longevity and elegance are two great qualities that separate an amazing design from the mediocre, and if it also serves as an investment, well, that can’t hurt either.
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