When I was a kid I dreamed about having braces. Unfortunately, my teeth didn't need fixing, so those shiny, aluminum foil-looking tooth cover thingys hip-hop guys and gay wiggers wore were the next best thing, right? I decided to search the web to see how the dental bling industry is faring these days and found Paris based Grillz manufacturer Dr. Doll'art. I expected it to be run by some wannabe gangsters, but actually Dr. Doll'art are two super cute girls--25-year-old Dolly and 24-year-old Merry.
Wow, two pretty Girls! How did you end up making Grillz?
Merry: We started a year ago. We're the only people making Grillz in France, and, we think, the only girls in the world. I used to be a beauty editor for a magazine--now I run our line. Dolly is the Dr., she has a dental technician diploma. She measures the teeth and makes the Grillz in her laboratory.
Dolly: I started making Grillz for friends just for fun. Merry was married to a friend of mine and I made Grillz for the both of them, to celebrate their engagement and we became friends. When our relationships went wrong at the same time, we decided to stop the crying and make some money, doing something fun together.
I don't know much about Grillz, I just think they look great.
Dolly: We can do lots of different types of Grillz. There are wallz, which is what we call a mouth full of diamonds, or capped gold teeth, which is what most people ask for--or partial Grillz. We usually use gold with Swarovski crystals in the place of diamonds, but we can use real gems. Depending on the budget we can do anything and can make your order within seven days of measuring your teeth.
Merry: You can also put Grillz on chains. My ex-husband lost his when he took it out of his mouth to eat a burger. A nightmare. So our first thought on starting up was how not to lose it! They look pretty cool worn on a chain.
What is your take on Grillz?
Merry: We want to take Grillz beyond the hip-hop world, to make luxury mouth jewelery something that normal people want. We've even sold one to a Baroness. We're hugely motivated. We did a special Chanel piece that we presented to Karl Lagerfeld. After chasing him around Paris we finally got to him and he arranged an appointment for us at Chanel HQ. We're Grillz warriors. We have a foot in the fashion world and a foot in the hip-hop world and have the advantage of being girls.
What's the competition like?
Merry: In France, our only competition is what we call the "teeth from behind the mosque." In Africa, Mali, and Senegal especially, it's a family tradition to have gold teeth fitted when guys are 15. It's a rite of passage thing. Some of the African specialists visit France sometimes, it's all done in secret in the banileue. It's super cheap, not more than 20 euro. Unfortunately, the fittings stay on your teeth for life, your teeth have to be filed, and you can be sure your breath will smell bad forever after those things have been fitted. We're doing something else--you can put our Grillz away when you're sick of them. They're more expensive, but it's worth it! Actually though, they start at only 80 euro.
You've already built quite a name for yourself.
Dolly: At the beginning our strategy was riding our scooter to the outskirts of Paris and talking to all the bad kids about our Grillz. Making a name in that world was easy--it's not every day that you have two girls like us come along offering to make gangster jewellery. Getting in with those guys helped us meet one of the biggest rappers in France, Booba (A.K.A Saddam Hautse-D'Seine) and he bought five Grillz right away. I think French rap guys like us, because we aren't just using them for publicity, when we take pictures of people wearing our Grillz, we always hide their eyes, it's our policy.
Are Grillz a late 20th century thing?
Merry: No, pirates wore gold teeth, so their wealth couldn't be stolen.