Puerto Rican-rooted New Yorker Venessa Arizaga talks us through her life as a creative and what inspires her designer jewellery collections.
Venessa Arizaga burst onto the jewellery scene in 2010 with a collection of playful, fashion-conscious pieces that played on her Puerto Rican roots as much as her home town of New York. A favourite in the Liberty jewellery hall, Venessa Arizaga bracelets and necklaces are the perfect contemporary twists for your jewellery stack. As her autumn/ winter 2014 collection hits Liberty.co.uk, we caught up with the designer to get a sneaky peek behind the scenes of this irrepressible label.
What part of New York influences your designs? How is this contrasted with Puerto Rican culture?
What hugely influences my designs are the cool girls I see in the city. I’ve always been inspired by people who just go out there and have fun with fashion. It inspires me to make pieces that they would want to wear. That eccentricity, combined with the laid-back ‘island girl’ lifestyle influenced by my Puerto-Rican roots is one of the main essences of the pieces I design.
Other than these two places, where do you find inspiration for new designs and witty motifs?
I find inspiration in everything – from fabrics, to music, and tons of research. I love going to libraries and spending days on end pulling books and being inspired by what I find.
How does your workspace and studio reflect the personality of your jewellery?
Our studio is very laid-back and has a lot of things that remind me of the beach. We have surfboards, maps and globes, flamingos, and a rooftop with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline. It’s reflected in my jewellery in the way that it’s easygoing, and but fun and daring at the same time. I think it’s the way accessories should be.
Do you have any good luck charms or keepsakes in the office?
We have a studio cat named Betty and she is a sweet little cat. I play with her every day! She mostly lies down and wants to be brushed. For the time we’ve had her, she’s made the studio a happier place.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Each day is different, depending on the season. I have days where I work on developing a new collection, and days where I prepare for production. I’m a Jack-of-all-trades – I love that there’s no typical routine because it keeps things interesting.
Which part of the design process do you love the most?
My favourite part is free-styling when I make a piece. I like combining my favourite charms, thread colours and new sewing techniques. Sometimes it never comes out the way you expect it, but with mistakes and lots of experimentation, you always get something innovative.
Do you have a particular favourite piece of jewellery you wear every day?
Right now, I love wearing the friendship cuffs from our AW14 collection. On one side it looks like just a simple cuff but when you look at the other side, you see that it’s a fun little bracelet with a happy charm. I’m obsessed with the special knotting technique we developed for this piece.
What should we be thinking about when buying our next jewellery piece?
Follow your gut. If you see a piece that speaks to you, try it on, and if it’s a fit you know it’s meant to be yours. Jewellery is really special and very personal.
Have you visited our Regent Street store? If so, which is your favourite department and why?
Yes, I have! It’s very beautiful. My favourite department is the fabric department. I am in love with the historical Liberty prints! I found myself in trouble buying meters and meters of gorgeous cottons that I brought back and decorated my house with.
The our full range of Venessa Arizaga jewellery is available to shop in-store, with selected styles available online.
Anglo-Swedish watchmaker, Larsson & Jennings, are taking the timepiece scene by storm. We caught up with the discreet team to get the 411 on combining two styles of European design, strap preferences and their top tips for buying watches.
Which watch are you wearing now?
It’s really hot in London today so we’re wearing the CM | Gold – the lightweight Milanese chain metal is nice and cool in the heat, plus the colour looks good with a tan.
Do you wear the same watch all the time or change it to suit your mood?
We like to change it up. Our core watches have quick-release straps so you can swap the styles to suit the mood or activity you’re doing at that time.
What do you love about Swedish and British style?
Both nations have incredibly rich history and design identities, which offer a wealth of styles to be inspired by from both the past and present.
How have you brought these elements to your watch designs?
By combining the classic British dress watch aesthetic with the paired back minimalism that’s so popular and effective in Swedish design, we’ve brought elements of each nation’s signature styles together to create one product that bridges both.
Your watches are popular with guys and girls. What is it about your designs that make them great unisex pieces?
The simplistic design, the lightweight feel and the high quality fabrics and materials make the watch both functional and easy to wear. Plus the 40mm case size of our classic ranges lend itself well to both men and women.
Canvas, leather or metal strap?
We couldn’t possibly choose. It really depends on the wearers aesthetic and style. The Larsson & Jennings watch case and dial is a mix of classic and contemporary so any of the strap categories work as long as you are you looking for a clean and uncomplicated watch.
If you could give one piece of advice on buying a watch it would be…
As well as looking for comfort and great design, the most important thing has to be good manufacture. Our watches are made with precision engineering in Switzerland so that they’re the best quality they can be at the current price point. At the end of the day it’s a functional item so it’s got to work as well as look stylish. We’re launching new watch styles later this year and look forward to sharing them with old and new customers.
Photo by Lucy Williams from Fashion Me Now
The Dannijo sisters give Liberty a lesson in bohemian jewellery styling and tell us how their eclectic jewellery has grown from strength to strength.
If you haven’t yet heard of Dannijo, you’ll definitely want to familiarise yourself with the jewellery brand this season. Created by Floridian jewellery makers, Danielle and Jodie Snyder, the eclectic line of bohemian, rocker-inspired pieces that wouldn’t look out of place at music festivals such as Coachella and Glastonbury, has been spotted on some of Hollywood’s most revered and infamous names (ahem… Natalie Portman, Beyoncé, Oprah, Rihanna and Black Lively to name just a few).
The girls first used their cardiologist father’s medical tools to make jewellery while at school. Then, reunited in New York after finishing University, they returned to their hobby and created a capsule collection of jewellery pieces for Danielle’s L.W.A.L.A non-profit fundraising initiative to create change in underdeveloped countries. Since it’s inception, Dannijo has a advocated creating sustainable economic opportunity for women, and now all their packaging is made in Rwanda as part of their women’s empowerment initiative.
We caught up with Danielle and Jodie for a lesson in Dannijo jewellery styling first-hand and how they like to spend their time in London whenever they visit.
Describe your jewellery in 3 words:
Statement, powerful and eclectic.
How many pieces jewellery do you wear on a daily basis? Is it your own, or a mix of brands?
We wear our own everyday and mix in Native American Indian jewellery or antique pieces every now and again. We wear anywhere from 2-10 pieces: loads of dainty rings from Fine by Dannijones, a statement necklace or several bracelets and cuffs stacked, and either studs or statement earrings.
Which is your favourite piece from the collection this season?
The Shelton II earrings or the Norgaard necklace because they’re such versatile, bohemian-rocker styles that really finish a look.
What is LWALA and how did it help turn your jewellery making hobby into a business?
Lwala (Live With A Lifelong Ambition) is a non-profit I co-founded in 2007 to help fundraise for grass-roots initiatives in Africa. The organization was named after a village called Lwala in Kenya– we helped fundraise for their first health facility by getting our peers to use their passion and talent (be it in fashion, music, film, or photography) to fundraise and impact change. Our talent was jewellery design and the philanthropic initiative was the impetus for us to start designing jewellery again.
You have a lot of famous followers. How did Dannijo make its big fashion break?
It was a combination of experiences and events that got us to where we are today. The brand has really leveraged social media as a means to connect with our following and establish a powerful presence. Our feature on the Today show very early on was great exposure for the line as well as Beyonce’s support (she bought a necklace our first month in business at Bergdorf Goodman and wore it on tour all over the world).
You’re coming to London for a personal appearance in our Jewellery Hall on 10th July, where are your favourite places to spend your time when in London?
We love shopping at Liberty, vintage shopping at portobello market and having drinks at Claridges and Shoreditch house. We often get lost and wander to new places and eats.
What do we need to know about Dannijo? Are you planning anything exciting for the next season?
The brand is expanding into categories that are natural extensions. Our handbag collection really took off as well as our fine jewellery capsule with Rashida Jones – called Fine by Dannijones – so we’re expanding our fine jewellery presence in addition to new categories altogether.
Come and meet Jodie and Danielle in our brilliant Jewellery hall on Thursday 10th July, 12-3pm and 5-7pm. The first 10 customers to purchase any piece from the autumn/ winter 2014 collection will receive a free Dannijo iPhone cover and luxury goodie bag, including a Le Labo Calone 17 Vintage candle, NARS lipstick in Heatwave, Claire Aude Liberty print wash bag and pocket mirror (in an assortment of colours), and an Essie nail polish in Mademoiselle.
Hat designer Emma Cheape talks to Liberty ahead of the next Open Call event.
The Brim Label designer, Emma Cheape, was discovered at the Liberty Best of British Open Call in January 2014. Since then her unique caps and sun hats have become an essential part of the Liberty hat hall. Here she reveals the hats that have meant the most, her vintage inspirations and how life has changed since seeing her designs stocked in-store.
How has life at The Brim Label changed since the Best of British open call in January?
The main change has been a subtle shift in my own personal view of what The Brim Label is, and perhaps more importantly, the potential for what it might become. The fact that Liberty appreciates the value in what I am creating has been very encouraging and confirms the idea that, despite being small, you can still be mighty!
What did it mean for the label to be stocked in Liberty?
It’s well known that Liberty is a highly respected, prestigious and iconic establishment so of course it has meant so much to me to have my hats stocked in such a store. I’m super proud and grateful that The Brim Label hats are sat amongst many of the best, most esteemed products in the world.
How do you think your design philosophy fits in with Liberty?
When it comes to design I am very passionate about quality, originality and the story, which I believe are also interests that Liberty shares.
Had you been to Liberty before Best of British?
Oh yes, many times. I would often visit when in the area and just wander around admiring all the beautiful things. I’d look around the hat department and think to myself, “The Brim Label would suit being here”!
What was the first hat you ever made?
About two years ago I started playing around with creating a pattern for a hat that I imagined I wanted to take on a beach holiday, but couldn’t find in real life. It was made out of calico. Many more calico trials eventually turned into the style called Arabella which is now sold at Liberty.
What’s the oldest hat you own and how did you find it?
I’ve got an amazing hat and dress combo, both made out of the same fabric that I bought from a vintage country fair when I first moved to the UK three years ago. Having just arrived, and being pretty broke after a few months of travelling on my way over from New Zealand, it wasn’t exactly a vital purchase but I just had to get it anyway. The hat and dress sat around waiting patiently for two years before an appropriate occasion finally arose last year when I got to go to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. While it may take another few years before it gets its second outing, it’ll be worth the wait!
How do you select fabrics? Is there anything you look for in particular?
I am dedicated to finding and using quality, original fabrics which ideally have a story behind them. For my summer hats I use predominately vintage cottons which have previously been curtains in a past life. For winter, I use luxurious English-made wools and tweeds. I’m drawn to unexpected patterns and colour combinations as well as the feel of a fabric. I always consider the uniqueness of a fabric vs. its ability to be wearable and timeless.
Do you have a favourite style of hat?
I love caps. Especially on a woman, it’s such a great look of confidence with a hint of tomboy style. And despite what some may think, I reckon they look cool at any age.
What do you think the UK in particular has to offer for someone working with vintage fabrics?
I think what the UK has to offer is a big enough audience that is interested in buying products made from vintage fabrics. If a product is made using genuine vintage fabric it is most likely that there will only be a finite amount of the fabric that exists. Therefore, only a certain amount of that product can be made, giving the item exclusivity. The type of person who chooses to buy vintage does so because they want something special – they don’t want the same item that hundreds, if not thousands, of other people will have. Authentic vintage fabrics can help to set a product apart, and in the UK where there is a sea of products that are mass produced and all look the same, I believe there is an increasing desire to own goods that are unique and therefore more meaningful.
As a new Open Call approaches, what does the next year have in store for The Brim Label?
I will be continuing to work on growing my audience and creating more awareness about the brand. I’m currently working on The Brim Label winter range. Lately I’ve been sampling winter caps and other head wear ideas in tartan, tweed, corduroy and leather – hopefully to be seen on the shelves of Liberty in a few months time!
Our womenswear buyers pick the best jackets for spring.
It’s not always easy to judge the UK’s weather patterns between February and May. One moment it might be hailing down with rain, snow and anything in between, the next it could be bright and glorious sunshine with temperatures raised to that of the Med. So if there’s one thing a fashionista, and sensible British dresser needs in their wardrobe come the warmer months, it’s a versatile but equally stylish spring jacket.
This transeasonal staple is not always the most straightforward piece to buy for one’s wardrobe, however, with an abundance of options available (see the catwalks of SS14) you might find you’re debating which styles to opt for. For an effortlessly chic look that can be dressed up for day or night with the right dress and heel, depending on the occasion, opt for a boxy bomber jacket in whatever colour, print or embellishment takes your fancy. This enduring emblem of the sports-luxe trend has received couture-worthy treatment from the likes of Stella McCartney, Teatum Jones and Alexander Wang to make it the covetable piece of the season.
Equally, more tailored styles such as those by Sessún, YMC and Acne have their merits, with their elegant structures and materials – perhaps a little more on-trend for more feminine, classic trends. As usual, the humble denim jacket has been reborn, as it is every season, with timeless panache. Vintage, beaten and worn to death is the way to do denim this spring, so choose styles that look like you’ve owned them since your teens.
Acne Studios Rita LA Liberty Print Leather Biker Jacket
“Adorned with no less than three classic Liberty prints, this leather biker jacket is not only a true collector’s item, but also a statement addition to style seeker’s wardrobe. I love that the boxy cut of Acne’s Rita allows the panelled design to take centre stage.”
DKNY X Opening Ceremony Contrast Sleeve Denim Jacket
“Opening Ceremony’s spring collaboration features exclusive styles reissued and reinvented directly from Donna Karan’s 1990s archives. This edgy take on a classic letterman jacket will infuse any look with instant New York cool.”
Stella McCartney Python Print Jacquard Bomber Jacket
“The mix of the print and casual shape of Stella’s luxe bomber effortlessly interprets two of the British designer’s most popular high-fashion trends for spring: sports luxe and wearable animal prints.”
T by Alexander Wang Textured Neoprene Bomber Jacket
“Sports couture is part of T By Wang’s branded DNA, and this neoprene bomber jacket is an effortless way to incorporate the aesthetic into your wardrobe. The classic, versatile bomber shape will work with everything from J Brand skinny jeans to a Kenzo mini dress.”
Teatum Jones Jessica Floral Print Bomber Jacket
“Graphic florals were a major story on the SS14 catwalk and this longline silk jacket by Teatum Jones is a strong homage to the trend. The perfect punctuation to an everyday look, this jacket will brighten up rainy British days.”
For more spring cover-up inspiration, discover more jackets and macs in our exclusive online edit.