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Customers Scurry to Buy Designer’s `Roach Brooch’

“A piece of jewelry that features a live hissing cockroach attached to a chain has brought his Utah boutique a lot of attention — and sales.

SALT LAKE CITY — Designing for his first fashion show, Jared Gold understood that a unique piece of jewelry could draw a lot of attention to both his work and the wearer.

His eye-catching creations are alive. And they’re cockroaches — 3-inch-long Madagascar hissing cockroaches bejeweled with Swarovski crystals and attached by a chain to a pin.The “roach brooches” are free to crawl around on a blouse or jacket, attached to a limiting lead. They hiss when upset and, unless the wearer is careful about the roach’s feeding schedule, they can soil your couture clothing.

A curiosity for sure, but when Gold revived the idea this year for his Salt Lake City boutique even he was a little surprised by the result. He can’t keep them in stock.

“Oh, there they are,” exclaimed Linda Sanders, a fourth-grade teacher, as she gently picked up a roach. Sanders had made the nearly hourlong drive from her home in Orem to see the brooches at Gold’s store.

“I love all animals,” Sanders said, as a roach climbed all over her denim jacket. “The teachers would hate me.”

But within 10 minutes, Sanders was signing a receipt for the purchase of her roach, attached to a chain and pinned to her lapel.

“The kids will love it,” said Sanders, who has a tarantula and two chinchillas in her classroom.

On a busy Friday evening, many of those visiting the Black Chandelier clothing store were there to see the roaches.

LeAnn Kay, of Salt Lake City, saw a story about the brooches on television and came to see them for herself. Gold and his cockroaches also were recently featured on an episode of the reality show “America’s Next Top Model” on the UPN network.

“Initially I was taken aback, and I was appalled,” Kay said. “The more I looked at it, the more interesting the idea became. You know, art for art’s sake. It’s a very intriguing idea.”

Taking the mundane or grotesque and making it pretty or taking something pretty and making it slightly disturbing is what Gold says interests him as a designer.

It takes about an hour to decorate a cockroach. Gold’s head seamstress, Aja Davis, is the studio’s “roach wrangler.”

“We have our secret way that we prep them. They excrete this wax that no adhesives will stick to,” Gold said. “After months of trial and error, we finally figured out how to get jewels to stick to them.”

The jewels and clasp are attached to the roach’s hood, or carapace, a hard shell that covers its head. Gold says his staff is very gentle with the roaches. He doesn’t even like to make them hiss.”

I could have a lot of fun with this one. I can think of a few people who deserve one.
Hat Tap To On The Mark at Toner Mishap

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  1. Jack's Shack April 21, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    Yep, people will buy anything.

  2. Party Girl April 20, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    it just goes to show, people with too much time and money will buy anything and call it fashion.

    I mean seriously. Would anyone buy a New York cockroach? Doubtful.

  3. westbankmama April 20, 2006 at 2:40 pm


  4. Jack's Shack April 20, 2006 at 3:55 am

    It is all kind of scary to me. Yuck.

  5. Amishav April 20, 2006 at 3:01 am

    I’m sorry. I would never give a gift to one of the living dead. The problem isn’t the roach. Its the undead thing wearing it. Yikes!

  6. Irina Tsukerman April 19, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    That’s just cruel. To the roaches. : (

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