Fashion Insiders Swarm for Bee Motif Treasures

Got apiphobia? Then you might want to step away from the Gucci. No, apiphobia is not a fear of paying too much for a once-traditional-then-sexy-now-quirky Italian design house luxury brand item – it is the fear of bees; a currently prevalent leitmotif thanks to Gucci designer Alessandro Michele’s revamped line. Needless to say, Michele is hardly the only one using the honeybee for fashion, jewelry and accessories, he is just one of the more recent to get in on this “buzzy” iconographic staple.

Napoleon and the bee motif

The bee, as an emblem, can be traced all the way back to Napoleon Bonaparte. A general of Corsican descent, Napoleon sought to legitimatize himself by appearing as a French emperor, thus requiring a crest or “trademark.” He decided to adapt the bee; of course, centuries before the famous Muhammad Ali line “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” however it indicated that this his was no “fly by night” reign. Like the bee, he may not have been large but he was in charge for about 20 years! See:

Alexis Bittar flower & bee pin

Since then, bees have become a part of popular iconography along with flora and have been used throughout for jewelry both high and low. From Dolce & Gabbana with their bee and crown logo, to Alexis Bittar with his resin jewelry, to Alexander McQueen with his skull & bee have employed the image of this polarizing creature.

Kiki McDonough bee bracelet

Why do we fear the bee when it is an important part of our ecosystem? Well, of course there’s the aforementioned sting, generally caused by its more vicious cousin, the wasp. The much misunderstood and maligned honeybee doesn’t sting unless provoked (think Big Sean’s “I Don’t F With You”) or if their hive is disturbed (can’t you see they’re busy making honey in there)! The bee should actually be afraid of the human as we are now responsible for eradicating bees at an alarming rate to possible tragic ecological results.

Joan Rivers bee pins

The late Joan Rivers was a huge bee fan who sold her numerous iterations of highly decorative and ornate bee pins on QVC for years where they continue to be available. She often remarked on the fact that bees defy science with a body too big and wings too small to be aerodynamic, yet somehow they fly. She loved the symbolism of these insects; one of being able to triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds, and used the bee as a parable for her own success. As we all know, she even named her daughter Melissa — Greek for honeybee. Interestingly, an alternate word for apiphobia is Melissophobia which sounds like something that the current co-hosts on Fashion Police (whoever they may be this week) are probably quite familiar with. Ha!

Erwin Pearl bee pin

Most recently, the jewelry design company Erwin Pearl, has created a line in conjunction with the New York Botanical Garden and yep, you guessed it!  One of their featured items is a gold bumblebee pin which was recently given out as a party favor during their promotional event last week.  ICYMI they are also available on the NYBG website .

Gucci embroidered bees

At the recent NYBG Winter Wonderland Ball I noticed fashion designer Victor de Souza wearing a sparkly mint green suit with the new logo of Gucci, the well known red and green stripes plus a gold embroidered bee smack dab in the center, which appeared near the cuff of the jacket sleeve. Last week at a luncheon DeSouza wore one of the gold bee pins on his black jacket lamenting the fact that he would have liked a whole cluster of them to pin together – very appropriate since he also wore a black flower as a bolo tie.

So whether you’re a Queen Bee, a Wannabee or a busy bee finishing up your holiday shopping, it’s safe to predict that the bee trend will “stick” around into the new year… no Epi-pen necessary.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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