The Couture Show is a bit of a mystery to me. Not in the truest sense of the cliché or because I don’t understand what’s unique about it, but more because I’ve only ever worked the JCK shows in Las Vegas and so I don’t usually get to see how the “other side” lives. That is, until this year. For the first time I am registered as a member of the press for both jewelry shows, and while I won’t have a ton of time to spend on the beautifully carpeted floors in the Wynn while chatting it up with some of the most respected high-end retailers this world has ever known, I will make it a personal goal to make sure I get by to visit the salons of the following designers and artists because frankly, I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t.
Of course there are the folks who every blogger, editor, and writer wants to see for obvious reasons: the Irene Neuwirths; the Heather Moores; the Temple St. Clairs; and the Brumanis. Talented designers making wearable, one-of-a-kind pieces who also happen to be very cool people when it all comes down to it. But then, there are the few who fly under the radar, like your Shaun Leanes and your Ileana Makris. Those folks are also who I get super excited about visiting, and I think you would too if you did a little research on them. So with that, here is my “go-to” list for whom else I’d like to see and whom you should be seeing at this year’s Couture show in Las Vegas:
To finally be able to hold a Lydia Courteille piece in my hand might be my own personal equivalent to what it would be like for a Christian to hold the chains of St. Peter. I am enamored by the woman’s work and spirit and I am blown away by all of what makes her unique to our world. She is a biochemist and a graduate gemologist. She’s an antiquarian and a traveler, and all of these sides of her add to her ideas and serve as a base from which her masterpieces grow.
With a celebrity client list longer than the number of six-syllable words in my vocabulary, Madam Courteille has found a significant following in the art, music, entertainment, and fashion worlds. Sofia Coppola, Mick Jagger, and Kate Moss are just a few of the heavy-hitters who’ve been spotted adorning her extraordinarily imaginative designs.
The pieces I’d like most to see are the exquisite Armour ring from the Crusades collection, the Paris Skyline Tiara from the Cabinet of Curiosities, and pretty much everything from Gardens of Xochimilco. And if you happen to be able to get an appointment to see her works in their entirety, by all means, please share your experience, as I’m sure it will be an experience like none other you will have while in Las Vegas.
They had me at bat jewelry.
As a child of all things Goth, the jewelry of Atelier Minyon speaks to me in a different way than most. I think of it as rebellious fashion, and to this gal right here, rebellion reeks of sex appeal. In 2008, when many designers started using silver in their lines for financial reasons due to the economy’s collapse, Turkish designer Alp Sagnak opened his flagship store in SoHo and used silver to tell an alternate story. As I see it, his pieces take the industrial feel of the capital city of his homeland combined with the beauty of its picturesque views and Hellenistic ruins, but these wearable works of art also come alive with all that’s known to be vibrant, wild, and romantic about his country. He uses metals from opposite ends of the spectrum – pure 24K gold, and common oxidized silver (which to me, represents the diversity of Turkey) – then he embellishes these pieces with various gemstones and colors of diamonds, adding a modernization to the designs while still giving props to an otherwise ancient craft. If we could take the noun magnificence and turn it into a piece of jewelry, I guarantee you it would come from the hands of Alp Sagnak and be proudly on display at Atelier Minyon.
The pendant I’d like most to see, touch, examine, and even wear at COUTURE would have to be The Humble Man. Redefining the term “statement piece,” the pendant comprises oxidized silver, 24 carat gold, and .87 carats in white, yellow, and champagne diamonds. But it’s the design itself that most intrigues me. If I had seen an image of this piece in some coffee table art book sans diamonds, I’d likely have thought it an Auguste Rodin sculpture. It is truly a masterpiece that one can wear around one’s neck, and I’m positive it will be a highlight on every attendee’s itinerary.
Okay, so, maybe I have an ulterior motive for wanting to visit booth 137. Maybe his likeability is a draw, as well as his sense of humor, oh, and the fact that he and I were likely separated at birth. But that doesn’t mean that his designs don’t pull me in. They do. And they’ll pull you in as well, if you make the time to see them.
Using recycled materials is still rare in the jewelry-making world, yet Vicente creates every piece in his West Coast headquarters with them. Drawing inspiration from nature, family, architecture, and landmarks, Vicente’s works represent different degrees of the female psyche, and yet all are distinctly feminine and even sensual in their own right. Plus, any man who lists his mother as one of his muses gets five stars in my book, hands down.
Pieces I’d love to get my hands on would have to be his 18K yellow gold Large Scroll Earring from the Moroccan Garden collection, the cinema-inspired Siren Ring from the Swell collection, and the fun and flirty Friendship Bracelets from his collection, Palais Bulles. I may even forgive him for listing Gwyneth Paltrow as one of his muses, if I like what I see. 😉
Brazilian born Fernando Jorge’s creations are just plain cool. They’re not forty-six karat gold earrings embellished with three-hundred gemstones cascading in waterfall form down the back to the buttocks. They don’t represent the struggles of mankind or the torment of the human soul or the mystery of the Holy Trinity. They’re just wearable, beautiful, everyday pieces of jewelry, which is sometimes all a woman needs in her life.
With collection names like Adonis, Cheeky, and Swallow (don’t go there), it’s clear that Jorge treats his designs with the same lightheartedness that he’d like the wearer to feel while adorning them. There’s a real market for the sleek and sublime, and Senhor Jorge is cornering that market in an affordable and readily available way.
So there you have it. With 322 exhibitors showing at Couture, trust me when I say it was terribly difficult to pick just four, but the last thing I wanted to do was to give you a novel to read in your likely already drunken Vegas haze.
Check out the final post in my Vegas preview coming soon. Next up… all things JCK!