It's the latest example of the trickle-up theory. It started on inner-city streets where rap musicians converted everything from alarm clocks and hood ornaments into pendants to hang on heavy gold chains. This unconventional jewelry went well with the track suits, athletic shoes, T-shirts and logo-laden caps that were their wardrobe basics.
Designers in fashion's stratosphere are calling rap the strongest influence on style today. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Isaac Mizrahi and Donna Karan were among those with rap-inspired fall '91 collections.
And several California jewelry designers are watching the same bold, witty sources. Melina Crisostomo, Deanna Hamro and Michael Morrison are leading proponents of the rage for rap accessories.
"This is not a serious look; it's funky," Crisostomo says. "It can be worn with everything from suits to overalls."
Huge medallions on heavy chains are the cornerstone of rap jewelry, accompanied by more layers of chains, bold-scale rings, earrings and bracelets. There's no such thing as too much and no such thing as vulgar. In fact, gaudy excess is exactly the point.