Getting Pierced at Studs with RHONY’s Leah McSweeney

McSweeney and beloved Studs piercer Chris Conde look at the menu of stellar earring options. Photo: Courtesy of Liana Satenstein / @liana_ava

Welcome to Shopping With Vogue, a series in which we sift through a fashion lover’s favorite store. For this edition, we get pierced with Leah McSweeney of The Real Housewives of New York at the new Studs location in Williamsburg on 324 Wythe Ave.

Leah McSweeney, the saucy star of Real Housewives of New York and the founder of the streetwear label Married to the Mob, has plenty of experiences getting pierced. Most of them were not where we are now, the sparkling clean, eat-off-the-floor new Williamsburg location of Studs, or the millennial answer to elevated yet affordable piercings. After all, McSweeney is born-and-bred New York and grew up in an era when piercing was more laissez-faire. In the early ’00s, she partied, stayed out to all hours, and “went to Limelight every night.” (You can read more about those ragers in her book Chaos Theory: Finding Meaning in the Madness, One Bad Decision at a Time.) She recalls her first piercing, independent of a family trip upstate to Buffalo for a lobe piercing at the mall, being on St. Marks when she was in eighth grade. “Me and my best friends got our belly buttons pierced. I remember the guy saying, ‘No blood, no pain, no crying, no blood,’” she says. “Back then it didn’t matter. We were going to clubs and getting pierced at dirty places.”

She knows her angles! Photo: Courtesy of Liana Satenstein / @liana_ava
No fear here as McSweeney ponders her new era of piercings. Photo: Courtesy of Liana Satenstein / @liana_ava

The comment elicits laughter from the team at Studs, which includes co-founder and CBO Lisa Bubbers. Everyone in the room has a St. Marks piercing or tattoo story. Getting inked and jabbed on the gritty and historically punk street feels like the ultimate–and cheap–rite of passage for living in the city. But times have changed for a lot of us: At Studs, McSweeney is currently adding to her “earscape,” a catchy term trademarked by Bubbers in 2018. “It’s not just the hoops up the ear,” says Bubbers, pointing to a hulking diagram of a pierced ear above the display table. “It’s all different.” It’s not that the concept of “earscaping” hasn’t been done before–piercings have been around for thousands of years; styles varying within different cultures–but the lingo encapsulates the current trendy metropolitan vibe of ear piercings. Just as you might go out for a cocktail, a girls’ weekend could just as easily include a new addition to an earscape. One of the most popular designs is a “snakebite,” as seen on Kaia Gerber, featuring a piercing closely on top of another piercing.

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