I Want Your Hands On Me (Temporarily): Delfina Delettrez's Bracelets

Delfina Delettrez “Stonehand” cuff bracelet, image via Vogue.com

Delfina Delettrez “Stonehand” cuff bracelet, image via Vogue.com

There is nothing quite as pleasurable as having your mind changed. It’s almost as pleasurable as being right.

I am The Observer‘s Culture Editor — hi — and I am not what you might call a fashion person: I appreciate a fancy frock as much as the next gal; I can slip into an attitude of connoisseurship towards the impeccable construction of any given garment as easily as I might when confronted with an expertly made artwork; I am sensitive to the creativity that goes into creating clothing or jewelry;  I, too, went gaga for the McQueen show at the Met. But I don’t build my life around it. Fashion’s Night Out has historically been my night in. Which is all to say I hadn’t planned on going out of my way to see jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez’s bracelets at the Gagosian shop last Friday night. I’d gone uptown to see Richard Pettibone’s diminutive copies of paintings by Warhol and Lichtenstein, around the corner, at Castelli Gallery.

But on my way to Castelli I passed the Gagosian shop, and observed that a modest crowd of attractive, well-dressed people had gathered inside, and remembered that Ms. Delettrez’s bracelets were being debuted. Having taken in the Pettibone copies, I walked back to the shop and stepped inside to give one of the bracelets a spin.

I’d seen photographs of these bracelets — delicate feminine hands made in a variety of materials ranging from marble to wood, fashioned to appear to grip the wearer’s wrist — and expected a facile surrealism along the lines of Salvador Dali’s Ruby Lips brooch. Instead, once one of Ms. Delettrez’s bracelets was snapped into place on my own wrist — the wooden one, with each fingernail painted a different color — I detected a potent metaphor. These wrist-gripping hands were evocative, it seemed, of the, let’s say, possessiveness problem in relationships.

A couple holds hands, but a hand around the wrist is something else entirely. There’s a darkness: wrists are often gripped to pin a person down. And then there are handcuffs, which are misnamed, as they, like these bracelets, encircle not the hands, but the wrists. The commitment-phobe ponders the wedding vows. “To have and to hold.” Okay, but maybe hold the have part. And the hold part.

I removed the bracelet and stepped out, alone, into the cool early evening, felt a breeze tickle the skin of my unencumbered wrist. But I hadn’t gone half a block before I wanted the thing back. I wished I’d bought it, so that I could take it home. And put it on, and take it off again.