I've been out of the loop with all the shifts and changes going on in London's department stores but I did notice that Liberty's jewellery deparment now has a spacious and dedicated space on the ground floor, pushing the bags out to where the tea room used to be. Rightly so, as its newly relaunched Jewellery Emporium now houses around 35 designers, making up an eclectic selection for a discerning customer that according to the buyers, can't seem to get enough of jewellery. With popularity of fashion-fine jewellery growing, it was interesting to learn about certain trends developing. For example, apparently earrings are flying out of the glass cases. Last year it was rings. This year it's about ear jangle. I can't get onboard what with my unpierced ears and metal allergies but Liberty's selection definitely makes me want to reconsider keeping my earlobes holeless.
Today and tomorrow, Liberty have selected a few of their jewellery designers to come to do trunk shows, in-store personalisation events and general meet n' greet. Yesterday, I got to meet a few of them, educating myself about a field that feels at times sprawling and growing at an even faster pace than apparel. Beyond the jewellery designers in London, I'm generally clueless unless I come across designers in boutiques or via direct emails.
For instance, I SHOULD know all about New York-based jewellery label Lulu Frost. Designer Lisa Salzer and her maternal side of the family (where the name Lulu Frost is derived rom) have been involved in the estate jewellery business for years. This gave Lisa the opportunity to salvage antique and vintage pieces, break them up and collage them together into unique pieces, which she has been doing since 2004. Now the collection comprises new pieces in addition to the antique collage pieces. Lulu Frost also has quite a lovely Tumblr. You know me – always monitoring the quality of in-house blogs. Turning old treasure into new jewellery pieces isn't a new concept but Lisa has a sharp eye that enables her to compose pieces that are harmonious. I particularly love the 100 Years Collection, where necklaces, earrings and bracelets span a century with elements that might include a Victorian brooch, an Edwardian buckle and then post-war bakelite pieces all into one collage.
On the more contemporary and slightly more accessible end of the scale is Venessa Arizaga, another name that I should have immediately known. This goes to show how much tunnel vision I have where clothes and shoes are concerned, eclipsing everything else around. Perhaps Venessa herself understands as she is rooted in apparel design, having worked for the likes of Carolina Herrera and Zac Posen. However it was her love of travel which took her to Puerto Rico where she began to spontaneously make jewellery using silk threading to weave charms, chains and shells together. She hasn't looked back since and she has had a roaring success with her well-travelled mixed media jewellery, as she is currently stocked in Opening Ceremony, Bergdorf Goodman and now for the first time in Liberty. What with my recent trip to Mexico City, obviously anything Day of the Dead related was going to get me going. All her past collections are availble to order on her website, so you can have anything from avocados to skull charms hanging off your wrist or neck.
Ek Thongprasert is the one name that I knew but not through his jewellery as I remember his graduate collection from the Royal Academy of Antwerp. Since then he splits his time between his hometown Bangkok (where I met him back in May) and Antwerp and likewise also has two lines – Curated, his clothing label that is mainly sold in Thailand and his mainline jewellery, which was developed further from his graduate collection. His main signature is the rubber silicone jewel necklace, a distinctive take on "fake" jewels. On top of the silicone base though, Thongprasert has added bling as a contrast point and for Liberty, he has created an exclusive nine piece collection as seen here. Ruby Chadwick, Liberty's junior buyer for accessories and jewellery wears one of the Ek pieces well with her Richard Nicoll jumper. Ek himself also wears his own jewellery well, matching the dark teal of his shirt with the silicone necklace.
Last but definitely not least are these knuckle and wrist dusters from the relatively new jewellery duo Daimyo, made up of artists Thomas Khadafy and Martin Cornejo. Their chunky and robust jewellery features Asian and in particular Japanese motifs taken from Noh and Kabuki theatre.