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I believe the last time I used safety pins as a fashion statement I was an angsty 15 year old slashing up tee shirts and pinning the band logos to the back of my jean jacket, switching them out as my musical tastes evolved (or devolved, depending on who you ask).

As much as the slashed and pinned look has been a sort of trademark of the anti-establishment rebellion of the 70’s and 80’s punk movement, the look – or rather just the safety pin itself – has carried over into high-end fashion, evolving in a sort of avant-garde, rock ‘n roll way, while always retaining the rebelliousness of it’s roots.

Aside from the punk movement, I think one of the most significant fashion events for the safety pin was indeed the infamous Versace dress that Liz Hurley wore to the 1994 premiere of then boyfriend Hugh Grant’s movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. All thigh-high slits and plunging neckline, she single-handedly gave the safety pin a sexy fashion makeover.

Jump ahead a few years to 2007, where a young Brit designer by the name of Gareth Pugh sent two amazing dresses down his Fall 2008 runway – entirely covered in safety pins – again reviving the humble pin, but this time in a futuristic and avant garde way.

Gareth Pugh, Fall 2008

More recently the safety pin has been added to runway looks ranging from the rock ’n roll ensembles of Balmain, to the arty youthfulness of Vena Cava – who for Spring 2010 crafted an adorable cropped tank/vest out of oversized safety pins.
Clockwise from top left: a Balmain jacket, necklace by Tom Binns, Vena Cava Spring 2010, photo from Dazed and Confused, Gianni Versace on the runway with Christy Turlington in another one of his sexy safety pin creations.

For Spring 2010 Vena Cava again utilized the safety pin, but this time on a cut-and-pinned oversized button up tunic, allowing for a slim strip of midriff to peek through. Whether you have an older button up you want to revive, or have one in your project queue, this is a quick and easy way to add an edgy update to a classic piece.
Sew it yourself with the Jakob Shirt Pattern

Also for Spring 2010, Christopher Kane added colorful oversized safety pins to his dresses for Versus, creating a youthful homage to the Versace dress that came over a decade before. A simple cap sleeve dress, a few slashes at the shoulder seam and hemline, a handful of bright safety pins to pull it back together and you’ve got your own version of the Versus look.
Sew it yourself with the Cap Sleeve Dress Pattern

Last but not least – the updated, much more chic version of the safety pinned jacket. Moschino created a Chanel-esqe collarless version trimmed and accented with safety pins.
Sew it yourself with the Cropped Collarless Jacket Pattern

Have you used the safety pin in any of your projects? How would you add this punky accessory to your looks?


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    Mar 28, 2011, 06.09 AMby Amy Why

    haha cool!! i still remember attaching pins to my pants back at school…missed those days T_T

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    Dec 27, 2010, 02.36 PMby max

    Interesting! I spray painted safety pins with some left over paint I had just because……. Now I have some ideas of what to do with them. Thanks!

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    Dec 27, 2010, 11.16 AMby anajan

    What a timing – last week I had a presentation for my Spanish course, and I chose to talk about how punk influenced the fashion and how that influence can be seen today. I talked a lot about safety pins, Vivienne Westwood, Sex Pistols and the infamous Versace dress Elizabeth Hurley wore back in 1994 (or was it 1993?). Too bad – my class mates are too young to understand it – they didn’t even know who Liz Hurley was, not to mention the safety pin dress she had on :).

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    Dec 26, 2010, 09.03 AMby magdamagda

    I almost skipped the article because of the image on the slideshow – now that I’m here I find I would have missed some amazing creations!

    Safety pins when holding together 2 pattern pieces, showing skin – add a mistery element – depends how far it is pushed and what other reactions are pursued – it makes the sexy sexier, but if pushed too far, other descriptive terms come to mind in general! As a route for designing exploration I would take it, as a choice to wear…well, it’s for ppl like Liz Hurley!

    Gareth Pugh added a totally different dimension to it, I love the creations above – hmmm makes me think in the eventuality of a thunder storm – safety pins not safe!:))

    I like some safety pin – inspired accesories – oversized pin-like shapes made into brooches – that’s one area where the safety pin, as an element of undergarments come to the surface and do such a fine job that I am sure they will stay there forever!

    image from here

    image from here

    image from here

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    Dec 26, 2010, 06.36 AMby coda26

    Yes, I do believe that the 80s are really and truly back. I remember doing this to the side seams on a pair of jeans.

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    Dec 26, 2010, 04.47 AMby kelepso

    I don’t particularily like when the safety pins are simply used to hold “seamless” portions or open areas of a garment together. I think the application is more successful when it used in a more thoughtful design (i.e. – Gareth Pugh, Fall 2008; the Balmain jacket and necklace by Tom Binns). Otherwise, the application is to excepted & typical.

    1 Reply
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    Dec 25, 2010, 06.16 PMby smexydead

    If you feel like putting a few hours (and a couple hundred pins) into a project:

    1 Reply
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    Dec 25, 2010, 03.13 PMby tinybows

    I used to love doing this back in high school. Maybe it’s time to reinvent the look.

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    Dec 25, 2010, 02.05 PMby momob

    No wonder Versace was shot. Good grief. I don’t call this punk – I call it slutwear.

    2 Replies
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    Dec 25, 2010, 06.03 AMby loyl8

    sooo funny and random, I have been working on safety pinning a cardigan for awhile now and I was going to fix a shirt that was too short by adding length with safety pins!!! Thanks!! :)

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    Dec 25, 2010, 12.58 AMby pambox

    some of those are pretty interesting (apart from the moschino jacket, which i really dislike). i’ve made a necklace of beads and safety pins – people often do a double take before realising that yes, those are safety pins around my neck. i think the difficulty in pulling off the safety pins in clothes look is that it is so tied to punk aesthetics that if it is forced into a completely different style it looks wrong. this is why the moschino jacket doesn’t work, the safety pins just don’t sit right on that sort of jacket or on the sort of person who’d traditionally wear that sort of jacket.

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