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Maria Tash

The godmother of luxury body piercing.

If you haven’t heard of Maria Tash, you’ve no doubt seen the influence of her work. A piercing specialist with her own label of jewellery, Tash is known for dotting delicate earrings all over the ear—to an effect that’s decidedly more elegant than punk. She’s the bona fide leader when it comes to body piercing art, bringing piercings well into the consciousness of the luxury fashion industry. Case in point: late this summer, Tash opened a new, permanent salon and boutique at Liberty London, arguably the U.K.’s grandest and most historic luxury department store.

“Liberty invited us to do a pop-up in February 2016,” recalls Tash, “and they were very generous with the amount of space and the design of our permanent store.” The 1500-square-foot shop-in-shop opened in August, and is Tash’s first space outside of New York, where she’s run an eponymous salon since 1992.

If the new Liberty boutique isn’t enough, Tash also boasts a healthy celebrity clientele, having pierced everyone from Uma Thurman and Meg Ryan to former model Yasmin Le Bon—as well as all their respective daughters. She also regularly styles and supplies jewellery for shoots for Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar, and has styled Julianne Moore, the singer FKA Twigs, Jennifer Hudson, and recently pierced Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman.

So why the sudden resurgence in piercings as a fashionable form of self-expression? “The jewellery has evolved over time, and is much better than what I had in the early nineties,” explains Tash. “Back then, it was about a steel, industrial look, with layered, thick rings that could only be opened with special pliers.” It’s a stark contrast to the jewellery of today, which is “durable, beautiful, and small enough for daily wear—and an important part of one’s personal style,” she continues.

Tash is the bona fide leader when it comes to body piercing art, bringing piercings well into the consciousness of the luxury fashion industry.

In terms of the piercings themselves, it all sounds relatively conventional—until Tash starts discussing daith, high first lobe, and high conch piercings. “These are some ‘new’ areas that are requested,” she says. Daith piercing—a piercing through the ear’s innermost cartilage fold—was developed in the nineties and has seen a resurgence, thanks in part to the belief that it can relieve migraines and headaches through pressure points often targeted by acupuncturists. “High first lobe piercing is a nice way to accent the main lobe and is a quick healer,” says Tash, “while high conch piercing is a new, unexplored area.” High first lobe equates to approximately a sixth or seventh piercing up your earlobe, while high conch is the flat part of your inner cartilage.

Given the fashion industry’s current obsession with the nineties, it’s a relief to hear from Tash that tongue piercings have been left in the past, although she does say that nipple piercings have become popular again. In general, “it’s difficult to keep inventing new piercing locations in the body,” she notes. “There are still some to be explored and it’s our challenge to do so, [but] the jewelry is easier to keep evolving.”

Venus by Maria Tash, Tash’s jewellery line, features ornate pieces with decorative embellishments. Her aesthetic is influenced by traditional Indian jewellery as well as elements of modern architecture—hidden and recessed lighting in particular.

Her collections include everything from gold spikes on tiny hoop rings to diamonds set in scalloped gold. However, it’s her classic diamond eternity ring—which features up to 22 diamonds—and single diamond heart and arrow studs with proprietary Tash threaded backings that are still her most requested pieces. “By themselves, these designs are not very unusual,” she says, “but they do look flattering on all skin tones and complement most personal styles.”

It’s not surprising these are her most popular styles: right now, it seems, everyone wants a piece of Tash when it comes to piercings.