fashion

The 'evil eye' trend is everywhere. Here's what you need to know before you wear one.

Ok, so yes, we probably read into Royal fashion too much. We find hidden messages in colour choice, rebellion in the absence of stockings or an off-the-shoulder dress. And don’t get us started on trousers.

But there’s a definite recurring theme in the jewellery of recently escaped — sorry — resigned senior royal, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex:

The evil eye.

This week, the Duchess appeared in a video for charity Smart Work, one of her patronages, and could be seen wearing yet another necklace featuring the talismanic symbol.

 

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She’d previously been photographed wearing one designed by Alemdara in September during her tour of South Africa. And before that, in December 2018, wore an evil-eye ring by Turkish brand Kismet.

Most (potentially) pointed, though, was the Alemdara evil-eye bracelet she wore in South Africa on October 1, the day she filed a lawsuit against British tabloids for alleged breach of privacy.

Coded message? Perhaps. Fashion trend? Absolutely. But there’s far more to it than that.

Folklore to fashion: the real meaning of the evil eye symbol.

The evil-eye symbol is looking out at us everywhere on social media, fashion and retail sites lately.

The Iconic has a whole range of pendants, ASOS has rings and cuffs and bed linen, and just Google ‘evil eye jewellery etsy’ and watch your internet browser explode.

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As a trend, it seems to have filtered into the mainstream from the 2018 runways — Gucci, Anna Sui and Libertine all used the motif in their collections that year. And jewellery designer to the stars, Lorraine Schwartz, launched an entire collection around the theme.

But there’s nothing transient about it.

The evil eye is a thoroughly ancient emblem that transcended cultures, borders and centuries.

In each manifestation, the belief is broadly the same. The symbol is meant to ward off the evil eye ‘curse’, which is transmitted through a glare — usually one motivated by envy. The curse brings various harms to the recipient, depending on the culture; from undoing their good fortune to sickness.

According to anthropologist, Alan Dundes, there are paintings of the symbol in Spanish caves that are 10,000 years old, while the first written record of the curse is goes back 5,000 years to the Sumerians of the Euphrates Valley (modern-day Iraq and Kuwait).

But it’s been referenced everywhere from the ancient Greek plays to the Christian bible and Celtic folktales.

Belief in the curse still persists in different cultures and faiths around the world today. You will see it everywhere from the Mediterranean to the Middle East, central Americas and Asia, in jewellery, on clothing, hanging over doors and painted on walls.

A hamsa painted over a doorway, and a nazar amulet. Images: Getty.
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The most common representations are the hamsa (or khamsa, in Arabic), which is the symbol of a hand with an eye in the centre of the palm. Or the Turkish nazar: an eye amulet made of blue glass.

You may have seen Kim Kardashian wearing a nazar on necklaces, bracelets and headdresses over the years. As has Gigi Hadid.

This week, 25-year-old Hadid and her partner, former One Direction member Zayn Malik, were both wearing 14k gold evil-eye bracelets.

The pieces had been sent to them by jeweller, George Khalife, to mark their recent pregnancy announcement: "[I] immediately thought to send them evil eyes," Khalife told People. "We’re all of Middle Eastern descent and in our culture, evil eyes ward off jealously and negativity."

While the evil-eye motif is undoubtedly having a moment in fashion, its meaning is far deeper to many than just an of-the-moment design.

It's a symbol that is ancient, rich and, to those who believe, powerful.

While it's not generally considered culturally insensitive for agnostics to wear it, it's worth understanding the weight it carries before you do.

Feature images: Getty.

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