Object Lesson: Key Party

They open doors, safety deposit boxes, fancy luggage, and mysterious lockers in Penn Station. But lately the key goes a step beyond its everyday job to emerge as a cool new talisman for accessories. The key has been symbolically tied to knowledge, freedom, and a solid sense of responsibility (if you don't lose them), but given the designs we've seen dangling from handbags and long, chunky-linked chains as of late, it's also a charm tied to the past.
Our favorite key moments involve different interpretations of the classic skeleton key, the design that historically was fashioned to open multiple locks (perfect for the ADD in everyone). Today it's a chic accent on a hearty, oversized ostrich leather satchel by Daisuke Iwanaga and paired with a sweet sacred heart on a key chain at Atelier. But you don't need to purchase a new one to duplicate the look. If you're like us, you've got plenty of retired, long-forgotten keys all over the apartment. And you don't even have to remember what they're for to make them work. —by Christene Barberich and Piera Gelardi
Clockwise, from top left: Silver sacred heart key ring, $650, by Werkstaette München, available at Atelier New York, 125 Crosby Street, 212-941-8435; mirrored acrylic necklace, $46, by Alex + Chloe; brass key necklace, $140, by In God We Trust, 135 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-388-2012; limited-edition handmade ostrich leather bag with brass key, special order, by Daisuke Iwanaga.
The ultimate in functional fashion, the key unlocks a cool new trend.

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