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Zippers proudly on display

An open zipper is an embarrassing faux pas, but an exposed zipper is all the rage.

An open zipper is an embarrassing faux pas, but an exposed zipper is all the rage.

The utilitarian garment closure is suddenly in the spotlight as a decorative trim on accessories.

The Ugly Betty of the notions family, the zipper, with its garish metal teeth, was never admired like the button, its close cousin which performs a similar fastening function and is proudly on display for all the world to see.

Even the zipper's birthplace is uncertain. It is often claimed to have been invented in Canada by Swede Gideon Sundback, who patented a fastener design in 1917 and manufactured them in St. Catharines, Ont. Evidence exists, however, suggesting American Elias Howe held an earlier patent (1851) on a gizmo resembling the modern zipper.

While fashion readily embraced the design for its modernity and practicality, the zip was always hidden by plackets and folds of fabric. In the past few seasons, it was Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz who left the closures uncovered on his beautiful silk frocks, showing off the industrial-looking metal track like an exposed spine.

Now it appears that fashion is having a full-blown affair with the now-fashionable fastener and embracing it for purely decorative purposes. Suddenly those jagged little teeth are a thing of beauty.

Zippers are now folded and furled as pretty rosettes on a necklace or tied into pretty bows for your hair. They even outshine their functional counterparts on boots, snaking seductively around the foot.

No longer just a zip, they've got sizzle.

 
 
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