Whatever happened to the jeweled and/or precious metal caps worn over the teeth known as “grills”? According to Wikipedia they were introduced by hip-hop culture in the 1980’s only to see a massive resurgence in the mid-2000’s due to rappers flaunting the “bling” in everything from videos to funeral services. The popularity of grills no doubt culminated with the 2005 Nelly hit single “Grillz”. Ever since, it seems, they aren’t so hot anymore.
I’m tempted to go into a really deep reflection on the nature of fashion, especially fashion accessories, but I’ll focus on the topic of grills. It’s fascinating to me that something as glaring a fashion statement as grills can be embraced and discarded in just a few business cycles. Was it a conspiracy launched by dozens of LA, New York, and dentists to cash in on a craze? Or did the financial crisis have something to do with it? One things for sure, the American Dental Association has found no link between sporting a grill and long-term dental damage. Whatever the reason, it’s simply to do with the way fashion works, however it works exactly.
Can grills be sexy? Were they ever sexy? It’s hard to say because that was then and this is now and my eyes have changed with the course of trends. If you’re having trouble seeing what I’m talking about, try and imagine your mom or dad’s senior yearbook photo, assuming they had at least adequate fashion sense at the time. Feathery hair, studded shirts, telescopic eyewear: those were sexy once! It’s crazy to think how utterly volatile the flow of fashion really is, and how much of what we decide about the sexiness of another individual is subject to outside influences.
Grills can be sexy. Just like eye shadow so turquoise it makes blinking look like a tidal wave can be sexy so long as you’re in the right decade and have the right frame of mind. But these tastes change, which is really weird when you really think about it. I mean, how can a glob of shiny metal straight from a Bond villain’s wardrobe be worn on the teeth and considered the pinnacle of popular fashion one year and sitting in a shoebox for the next 20? It has to have nothing to do with fashion itself and more to do with what causes fashion to change: primarily, our fascination with originality and our inability to enjoy most anything material for long periods of time.
These are facets of fashion that must be discussed on another day when I have the energy to project all the necessary perspectives and points of view. In the meantime, just take a moment to consider grills. They were once awesome, and now not so much. But were they ever really awesome, or have they ever really ceased to be so? Is this how all fashion works, or just the trendiest of statements? A topic for another day, but until then, grill your inner guru for answers.