From barbed wire and slithering serpents to vampire fangs and fake braces, get to know the brains behind the internet’s favourite grills
The story of Pinstripe Grillz begins two years ago when friends Nicolò and Simone decided to try their hand at making grills because they didn’t have the money to buy them. Through Nicolo’s job as a tattoo artist in Rome, which often saw him work with a host of musicians and rappers, clients would come in and get to know their work, commissioning grills of their own – “then the internet, social media and word of mouth did the rest,” they say. Creating innovative and intricate designs of barbed wire, slithering serpents, vampire fangs, fake braces and Louis Vuitton monograms, Pinstripe Grillz has amassed clients including musicians Bladee and Side Baby and fashion bootlegger Imran Moosvi. “Grillz are very personal jewels. Like tattoos, they reflect the wearer’s background,” they say. “Today grills are jewels that everyone dreams of. If before they were underground objects that belonged to the hip hop family, today you find them in fashion and in mainstream artistic scenes. When Madonna showed up with grills, the rules and the way gold teeth were seen definitely changed.” We caught up with the two to discuss their unique designs, notions of beauty and why their dream commission is Cheif Keef.
Why do grills appeal to you?
Pinstripe Grillz: Tattoos and clothes have always been a way to express ourselves. The mouth, the teeth, is one of the first things you look at when you meet somebody so we started to explore that direction.
Where do you find inspiration?
Pinstripe Grillz: We have our own aesthetic, often it’s extreme; we both play video games and watch a lot of movies but we don't believe that our inspiration comes from external factors. Usually, we are inspired by the person who will wear our creations. They are often artists or designers and our creativity is reflected in their creativity.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Pinstripe Grillz: Our personal aesthetics often remain separate from our work. We create jewellery and it must adapt to the aesthetics of the wearer. Our personal taste often takes us to the extreme. We like objects that are inspired by the world of bionics, mechanics, robots and we like when grills do not recall the original shape of teeth.
What is the favourite piece you've made so far?
Pinstripe Grillz: Our favourite piece is the ‘’Cuban link top and bottom’’. It is not a very original grill, but ours is incredibly large and extreme. We made it so big and “difficult’’ to wear on purpose.
What would be your dream grills commission?
Pinstripe Grillz: It would be something extreme and innovative. The best way to make a jewel is by matching it with the personal background of the person who will wear it. Grillz are customized jewels that must perfectly fit with the wearer’s style. Our dream grills commission? We would definitely love making grills for Chief Keef because he has a strong aesthetic and a lot of interesting personal elements on which we could work on.
What are you working on at the moment?
Pinstripe Grillz: Knives.
What's the most unique piece you've created to date?
Pinstripe Grillz: We did an LV grill that many have tried to copy later. We also like another piece that is very innovative and completely different from what you usually see around. It is fake teeth braces with stars that moves away from what we’ve seen so far in the world of grills.
What should grills add to a person look? What do they say about the wearer?
Pinstripe Grillz: The concept of beauty is subjective and we believe that in the end, a beautiful jewel is just what you love to wear. The grills are aesthetically very strong and impactful jewels. They give strength to the look of the wearer.
Do you engage with notions of beauty in your work or reject them?
Pinstripe Grillz: It depends. There are customers who totally trust us and our taste. Here we can express and push our aesthetics to the limit. But, just like with tattoos, there are some customers that come to us with their own design, so we just have to be able to create what they want with the highest quality. Although sometimes we refuse to create jewels that are too far from our style.
Why do people wear grills?
Pinstripe Grillz: Grills are very personal jewels. Like tattoos, they reflect the wearer’s background. There are so many types of designs that adapt to the style of the wearer. A person can wear a single capsule daily to go to work and a full diamond set for a few hours during an event. For many, grills are just a status symbol to be kept in the mouth like a trophy. Grillz stand out because they are worn on teeth and therefore catch the eye before a ring or a bracelet.
How do grills change our perception of beauty?
Pinstripe Grillz: They have already changed it. Today grills are jewels that everyone dreams of. If before they were underground objects that belonged to the hip hop family, today you find them in fashion and in mainstream artistic scenes. In our opinion, when Madonna showed up with grills the rules and the way gold teeth were seen definitely changed.