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As a head designer for European menswear brands for 15 years, Jason Basmajian has had a front-row seat to men’s evolving tastes. “In past generations, it wasn’t seen as cool or masculine to care so much about your appearance. But men are now feeling more comfortable in what they want and what gives them pleasure,” says Mr Basmajian, who is currently chief creative officer of Parisian fashion house Cerruti 1881.
This “macro trend” is being seen everywhere from fashion to fitness, he adds, and encompasses jewellery. Before joining Cerruti just over a year ago, he was behind a modernisation of Savile Row stalwart Gieves & Hawkes, a role he took on after revamping Italian menswear house Brioni. “Men can move beyond a watch and cufflinks to express their personalities,” says Boston-born Mr Basmajian.
Indian peacock-feather brooch (c2015)
By far the “loudest and most ‘jewellery’ piece” Mr Basmajian owns is a white and yellow gold, diamond-set peacock-feather pin, with emeralds circling a sapphire “eye”. Mr Basmajian bought it on a trip to Rajasthan, where his guide in Udaipur introduced him to an artisanal jeweller. Mr Basmajian had originally been looking for pieces for his mother but immediately fell in love with this peacock design, based on a Victorian-era turban pin. Today he clips it on his pocket. “Men in India wear jewellery unabashedly,” he says.
Cricket brooch (1950s)
It was while Christmas shopping in 2015 that Mr Basmajian stumbled upon a French cricket pin from the 1950s, crafted in 18ct yellow gold and pavé diamonds. “I thought I couldn’t dare wear it . . . The piece found me and I like that symbolism.” The brooch is also nostalgic, he says, as he bought it right before taking the top job at Cerruti 1881, which this month celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Hermès cuff bracelets (1990s)
Mr Basmajian still maintains a director’s role at Gieves & Hawkes (“I’m driving Cerruti and guiding Gieves”) and splits his time between the houses in London and Paris. The latter he first visited 20 years ago, an occasion he marked with a trip to the Hermès flagship store and the purchase of two leather cuff bracelets, one in brown with white hand-stitching and another in black with dark stitching. The cuffs, which “go with anything”, give him strength. “They’re called Hercules, which I appreciate because they really are heroic.”
Hannah Martin cufflinks (2015)
A pair of Hannah Martin cufflinks in black pearl and rose gold are “seemingly quite classic but if you look at the finishing they have spikes and a little edge”, he says. The piece, which Mr Basmajian bought for his birthday, also has a personal connection. He had met Ms Martin through the furniture designers Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, whom Gieves & Hawkes had commissioned to create pieces for its flagship store at 1 Savile Row.
IWC Portugieser Automatic (2015)
IWC watches “completely jive with my taste and aesthetic”, says Mr Basmajian, who owns a “small collection” of the Swiss-made pieces. His latest acquisition is a red gold Portugieser Automatic with a seven-day power reserve (above). Interestingly, he adds, IWC was in fact founded not by someone Swiss, but a watchmaker from Boston, his home town, who set up shop in Schaffhausen. “It’s a weird connection,” he says.