1708015544 A tooth cover worth 800000 euros What are Grillz and

A tooth cover worth 800,000 euros: What are “Grillz” and why do all the stars wear them? | SYMBOL

The scene happened just a week ago, but it already seems a world ago. At the 66th Annual Grammy Awards, a couple walked in what seemed at the time like absolute bliss while embodying the splendor of Latin music. Argentina's Nicki Nicole and the Mexican featherweight were one of the evening's attractions, the Spanish-speaking and dog-friendly version of the great Hollywood couple. In the evening's photos, which will soon become part of the galleries of what could have been and what wasn't, both artists pose smiling. She with immaculately white teeth. He, with a mouth full of gold.

A little over a week later, this couple appears to no longer exist, but the pictures will remain forever. With them, as with many others from this era, future observers may wonder in a few years why they chose to adorn their teeth with gold, diamonds and other precious materials that glitter in the light. Grillz, those pieces of jewelry designed to cover one or more teeth, have evolved from an aesthetic option in subcultures like rap to a widespread trend among pop stars who pay millions of dollars to match their fortunes. Last month, several American media outlets appreciated the titanium grillz worn by Kanye West on his Instagram account and featured on the James Bond villain Jaws (seen in The Spy Who Loved Me or Moonraker). ), to 850,000 US dollars (more than 790,000 euros). The good news is that the simplest models, for budgets far from the big Hollywood varieties, start at 150 euros, which is what a gold ring for a tooth costs.

Jaden Smith attends a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York.Jaden Smith attends a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on May 1, 2017.Noam Galai (FilmMagic)J Balvin attends the MTV Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey.J Balvin attends the MTV Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin (WireImage)

In recent years we've seen Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and Miley Cirus wearing them. Others, like Rosalía, have adapted it to their personal ideas, with diamond pieces in the shape of the butterfly from the Motomami logo. The hypothetical observer of the future will ask himself several things. Among them, why? Why then? And above all: where does it all come from?

From Etruscans to rappers

Adorning the mouth with metals or gemstones may seem innovative, a typical boutade of an age when celebrities are forced to stand out from the tidal wave of a crowded red carpet or an Instagram feed, but it is as old as the discovery of precious materials and the resulting desire to emphasize social status. The presence of tooth jewelry has been documented in various places on earth and in times long past. Civilizations in Southeast Asia are known to have been using them as early as 4,000 years ago, thanks to remains found in the Philippines. Similar pieces have been documented in the Etruscan civilization, and the Mayan culture also left traces of oral decoration. Already in the 20th century, the use of a gold case was initially a symptom of a more than healthy economy as a replacement for a lost tooth and later of a somewhat obscene display that suggested foreign origin. to legality. For example, they were worn by mafia bosses. But the recent rise of gold or diamonds in teeth has its origins in another, newer culture that is partly based on the aesthetics of the same bosses: that of hip-hop.

Rapper ASAP Rocky shows off his golden teeth in London in 2016. Rapper ASAP Rocky shows off his golden teeth in London 2016. Melody Jeng (Getty Images)Some Diamond Grillz during the True Religion ATL grand opening event at Cumberland Mall on October 26, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Some Diamond Grillz during the True Religion ATL grand opening event at Cumberland Mall on October 26, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Derek White (Getty Images for True Religion)

There is no consensus as to who was the first rapper to use gold caps for his teeth, but Slick Rick was the one who started popularizing them with his debut album in 1988. With this moment began an era in which gold and the bright ones began to spread from the neck, hands and ears to the mouth. The hip-hop culture, which accepted luxury without hesitation, began to adopt a practice that was no longer used and that was more related to a lack of dental care. Along the way, he also gave her a name, or rather several: Known as Fronts, Golds or Grillz, it is this last name that has entered popular culture as a symbol of proud display, the street equivalent of wearing a Rolex on your wrist.

There is a key name for popularizing this plugin. In the early 1980s, a young man of Surinamese origin named Eddie Plain set out to find a way to decorate teeth without replacing them with metal parts, as was common practice at the time. As described in the book Mouth Full of Golds by Amani Bin Shikhan, Plain wanted to start a business based on applying jewelry to teeth without damaging them and with the possibility of it not being permanent. To this end, he investigated the possibilities of molds to create parts that would cover the teeth without being permanent. The timing was perfect for his company with the rise of hip-hop culture. From Brooklyn, where his family came to the United States, he moved to Atlanta, where he became an institution in the rap scene, creating custom designs for rising stars and anyone who wanted to express their status on their lips.

How the Grillz went mainstream

In 1992, Madonna was still at the peak of her powers as a pop star and creator of trends, most of which were adopted from street subcultures. In her visual reinvention for Erótica, an album accompanied by her controversial book Sex, the singer took an aesthetic step that seemed extremely risky at the time: a gold tooth. With this image he photographed himself, recorded video clips and even suffered the pelvic rub from Millán Salcedo in a memorable interview. What seemed at the time like another eccentricity of a star desperate to disappear was actually the gateway for a street and hip-hop trend into pop star culture.

Madonna, at the Metropolitan Ball 2017.Madonna, at the Metropolitan Ball 2017.ANGELA WEISS (AFP via Getty Images)

This created a gap between subculture and mass culture. Meanwhile, in rap culture, grillz continued to be one of the hallmarks of artists in the genre, particularly in the south of the country. There, in cities like Houston, the likes of Johnny Dang, a Vietnamese-born jeweler who made a fortune creating personalized designs for artists like Lil' Wayne and Cardi B, emerged. The rise of the trap, with some canons of riskier aesthetics including facial tattoos, reactivated urban fashion's interest in them.

The current pop world, in its eternal search for road rules that give it authenticity, has gradually integrated grillz into its imagination, first as a test of courage and then as a custom. At some point, stars like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Dua Lipa and Beyoncé incorporated it into their image. Rosalía adopted it using the Motomami butterfly as a flag, giving it a more subtle and adaptable shape. From there it went on to other personalities like Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner or athletes like Lebron James. It has also found its way as a symbol in films such as Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning Moonlight, as a symbol of power or, from another perspective, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, where appearances take precedence over innocence .

Kanye West with a different kind of tooth jewelry: a box tooth jewelry case with the Balenciaga logo.Kanye West with a different kind of tooth jewelry: a boxing tooth case with the Balenciaga logo. Edward Berthelot (GC Images)

This transition, that of discreet luxury shamelessly proclaimed, is perhaps the key to its popularization: making a mouth shine is a statement so direct and alien to the opinions of others that it seems intended for a time , in which the only thing that is not the case will be, at least for some time, the images will remain.

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