(29 Oct 2017) LEADIN:
Multiple body piercings and so-called "ear bling" are now a red-carpet trend and mainstay in glitzy Hollywood.
A leading Los Angeles-based body piercer says social media and selfie photographs have sent the piercing trend skyrocketing.
Meet Brian Keith Thompson, a body piercer who's at the cutting edge of Los Angeles' piercing trend.
Thompson counts many stars and famous Hollywood residents among his clients, including singer Beyoncé, and actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Alba.
The former US marine is a piercer in demand here at his Body Electric Tattoo & Piercing studio on Los Angeles' Melrose Boulevard.
He says piercing is no longer considered counterculture, it's now an accepted form of self-expression for fashionistas, particularly for those hoping to make a statement.
Social media has proved particularly useful in marketing his work, sending pictures of his recent piercings around the globe in seconds.
"With social media and selfies, I mean, I can do a piercing and it can do global in 30 seconds, I mean, that's amazing," he says.
"So, you can have your work seen all over the planet in, you know, five minutes. So, I think that's skyrocketing piercers, tattoo artists, trends in general have changed. They're born fast and die hard also."
29-year-old West Hollywood-based fashion blogger Donnie Song is visiting Thompson's studio to have her navel pierced. She says she's been coming to him for years.
"I've been coming to Brian since three years ago and I absolutely trusted him and he just did an amazing job, it took five seconds," she says.
"No pain, no gain. It looks beautiful."
Fashion experts say there's a big piercing trend for so-called "constellation piercings." That means multiple piercings in close proximity, creating a pattern.
"One of the biggest trends that we've seen originate in Brian's shop in L.A. and really explode across social media is something really fun called 'constellation piercings.'" explains Lexy Lebsack from fashion website Refinery 29.
"These are essentially just like the name implies, groupings and clusters of piercings that are placed on the lobe, on the cartilage or anywhere else to create fun combinations.
"So, one of the things that makes this trend so fun is that you can really refresh an older piercing by placing one just right between it, a little bit above it."
Thompson says nowadays less is more, but multiple piercings are also popular.
"What I do is more delicate, soft, minimalistic, I don't do heavy," he says.
"Like the 90's, if you remember, it was big, bold, it was silver jewellery, large balls, it was statement pieces. Now, it's more delicate, it's more fine-tuned, it's more minimalistic.
"It is gold basically - yellow gold, white gold, rose gold is mainly what I use. And what I do now is like constellation piercings, I do groupings, I do nontraditional stuff.
"So, I'll take something and I'll decorate the person's ear specific to that client."
33-year-old hair salon owner Lindsey Carse says she loves her constellation piercings.
"I visited a few other places before I met Brian and what I liked the most is that he actually has, I believe, an artistic vision on each person," says Carse.
"I enjoy the fact that he actually listened to what I like, which was white gold and diamonds. I like things to be simple, but also still fun, because I wanted to do a lot, but not have it overkill."
Thompson says nose rings piercings are still popular today, particularly with delicate diamonds.
Lebsack says young millennials are jumping on the trend with many 16 to 18-years-olds getting pierced.
Merino says she was inspired by the latest trends, but also wanted to honour her family heritage.
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