Friday, May 28, 2010

Joanna Cave: Treasure Trove

London correspondent Nicole Dalamagas uncovers hidden treasure

Like Greece itself, whose bustling cobbled streets and white-wash buildings hold the perpetual stamp of the ancient world, Joanna Cave’s jewelry is a quirky fusion of playful contemporary design and archaic inspiration. Each piece captures the simplicity of her Grecian heritage, mirroring the dreamy, turquoise waters and rich, dark brown soils of the Aegean islands. Her du-jour classics revolutionize ancient ideals; twisting something natural and pure into something more tactile and sculptural, adorning women’s ears, wrists and fingers with unexpected drops of sheer modernistic cool.
Even the process encapsulates this: her ultra-chic designs are complemented by her choice of eco-friendly and recycled materials that bear the inexplicable charm of ethical craftsmanship. Yet for Cave, the ingredients of this process are more than just a careful consideration of materials. “The process involved in creating a piece is the combination of silver, a feeling, inspiration, and the imagination of the female body,” she explains. Cave then becomes the ultimate craftswoman: welding high end glamour with organic themes, fusing intricate detailing with subtle simplicity, adding a touch of creative individuality and a dash of urban cool.

On the picturesque Cycladic island of Ios, enveloped in Mediterranean bliss, Cave was brought up by her Greek mother and English father, who became a chief inspiration, both creatively and ethically. “My dad actually studied art, he is an artist, a painter who also owns a shop with designer jewelry. He influenced me a great deal by encouraging me to paint and use my imagination, he also always wanted me to be active and never waste my talent, to fight for good causes and look after the planet. He was also the person who supported me most when deciding to become more ethical and sustainable in my production.” His influence is imperative to each design.

All her jewelry is crafted by hand, using ethically-sustained and recycled materials, “I use mostly recycled silver in my designs. I melt an existing piece of jewelry and use the silver to remake a new piece. I believe in a piece of jewelry holding its own story and personality, but more than anything I believe that the world is full of unwanted pieces that need a new lease of life. If I didn't use recycled silver I would have to buy silver that's been extracted from the earth through mining which contributes to a huge environmental destruction. The working conditions for people working in mines are also very harsh and dangerous.”

By recycling silver, Cave embellishes her fashion-forward followers with more than just glamour and sophistication, but with the treasured story of our natural history. Their bodies become an existential plane of traditionalism and true moral value. This idea of memory and the respect for life has been something Cave has valued from a young age, "(I remember) sitting with my grandmother by the fireplace one Easter evening... listening to stories about the past, about people alive and gone, I remember thinking "how extraordinary life is, how it moves and evolves and people come and go" I remember feeling appreciative of the moment sitting there with her.”

After attending an international school in Athens, Cave studied jewelry design in London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Here she assisted a number of designers, including Scott Wilson and Tanya Griebel. Her notebooks from her student years in London are filled with her artistic inspirations, taken from anything from some far-away country’s folklore art to a tree down at the end of her street to an old children’s book or a piece of vintage wallpaper. Her muses are just as vast and diverse, including “My friend Miranda for her elegant chic, and yet timeless style, and my Aunt Pruedence for her truly fantastic personality and the way in which she lives."

She leads the most spiritual yet modern life, recycles, up cycles, has a compost and basically lives in the most eco friendly way from anyone I've ever met.. also last but not least artist Louise Bourgeois for being so dynamic in every way.

Her latest collection has been inspired by geometric forms and romantic symbols, and patterns evoked from the natural world. Fans can expect delicately cut out drop earrings, such as ‘Anoush’, ‘Agnes’ and ‘Pilar’, charming necklaces, such as ‘Fish’, which features three ethically sustained pearls and a golden fish-shaped pendant, and “Isabel’, with its four gold rings carrying four pieces of colored silver carved into abstract shapes. The pearls used are ethically produced high quality ‘Japanese Akoya’, respecting natural and social fair trade guidelines and the silver is 90% recycled sterling silver sourced by people who enjoy their job and are paid fairly.
Cave’s other artistic endeavors have involved creating pieces for prestigious fashion designers’ Deux Hommes collection and designing a room in the style of her signature jewelry for the Fashion House Hotel in Athens.

A collaboration with her good friend Eleanor Dorian Smith, the fashion designer behind the label Partimi is also on the horizon. Fans can expect “a collection of accessories combining forces and using 'ethically sourced materials.” Hitting shops for SS2011, this collection will no doubt be a sell out. In fact shockingly, despite the simplistic beauty of Cave’s pieces, in terms of both their aesthetic grace and their ethical worth, her prices remain affordable to everyone - for Cave, ethical fashion should not be elitist.

Her collections are sold in the UK, in London and in Brussels, as well as in her current home, Athens, but you can also contact her to request a design. These pieces are truly as remarkable and individual as the designer herself, whose wise words I will leave you with now: ”Be yourself no matter what.” NICOLE DALAMAGAS

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Smythson Passport Cover: Sail through airports

The Devil Wears Prada may have brought “Cerulean” blue in to the popular consciousness, but there was no specific push by the fashion industry to put it into your wardrobes. Now, Smythson of Bond Street, the fabled London-based stationer and purveyor of luxury travel accessories has introduced a Cerulean leather collection. Inspired by the azure seas of the Aegean and the bright blue houses on Greece’s finest beach resort, Smythson has crafted the items in vivid blue, baby crocodile print leather.

The passport holder is the ultimate must-have for this Summer 2010 travel season. If you have already gone through the unique, if somewhat lengthy, experience of having your monogram designed by Smythson’s for your custom stationery, then you can easily have that monogram applied.

This chic accessory will give you the extra fashion edge to sail through Immigration at any airport and dismiss any scrutiny of your Custom’s Declaration with an icy “That’s all!” worthy of Miranda Priestly herself!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gaultier Bronzing Powder: Eat Your Heart Out, George Hamilton!

This year, April showers have only brought May showers and the pre-summer base-tanning season is off to a very sluggish start. If you like a healthy glow by Memorial Day, then you may have to resort to some alternative methods like tanning beds or Brazilian spray tans. If you’re like me, you’re schedule and your fear of harmful UV exposure may not allow you to indulge in such luxuries. Luckily, I have a safe and easy way to cheat your tan.

Jean Paul Gaultier Monsieur’s Bronzing Powder provides the perfect shade of bronzy tan that works equally well on people whose complexions have rosy and golden undertones. This matte finish powder imparts the perfect glow when applied lightly or a deep, dark tan that would turn George Hamilton’s head when applied more heavily. The small square flip-top compact fits easily into the cigarette pocket of your favorite blazer or dinner jacket. Get your tan on and knock ‘em dead!

Monday, May 24, 2010

MANIC TROUT: Swimming upstream

Fiona McCoss cuts to the chase with jewelry designer Sierra Bailey

Vintage has never been more modern. Twenty-first century fashion has been revamping the old and the dusty, bringing back the early, classic decades and the more vibrant retro era into the next season. This a temporal amalgamation of mixing the past in with the present has seen Sierra Bailey step up her game, from collecting memorabilia on childhood trips to staking her name in the jewelery world with her dramatic and inventive pieces.

Based in New York, Manic Trout, as her brand is named, took off after Bailey’s entrepreneurial skills in college set her up for marketing her own handmade creations. From selling to dorm mates to customising for clients, Manic Trout embodies what it is to be vintage and one-of-a-kind. Bailey works with unique finds, buttons, crystals, beads and chains – anything with quirkiness and individuality; she loves creating pieces with bold colours, which make her designs not for the standard, plain Jane.

Sierra Bailey’s passion does not end at jewerly design, however. She also is a dab hand with a paintbrush. Having gone through art school and having computer graphics as a platform upon which to launch her creativity, the founder of Manic Trout also sells her large abstract paintings on wood and canvas. For lovers of fashion and unique one-of-a-kind jewelry Manic Trout is making sure everything old is new again.

MILITARY HELMET BAG: Joseph Ungoco enlists

On my recent travels through the South’s major airport hubs, I have been delighted to make the acquaintance of numerous men and women serving in the US armed forces. While the dress uniforms of the various branches are instantly recognizable by most of us, the “new” camo is slight more confusing. Each branch of service – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines – has its own versions and each version comes in both regular and “digital” versions, meant to disappear on digital media.

My personal obsession is the Army digital camo in the “three color desert” palette and, of late, my constant companion is my Army surplus helmet bag.

This oversize tote features short handles, an adjustable shoulder strap and backpack straps that can be tucked in and hidden for a sleek appearance. You can also customize yours with name tapes that you can order online. Mine features the regulation last name tape and one with my Secret Service Code Name!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poland Fashion Week: Agata Wojtkiewicz

Considered one of the 40 biggest designers in Poland, Agata Wojtkiewicz put on a colorful showing at this season's Polish "Fashion Philosophy" Fashion Week. Classic colors with the occasional standout splash, outfits were tailored to fit, destined to be worn.

For the confident woman with a taste for form fitting fashion, Wojtkiewicz's specialty is cocktail, evening and bridal wear, creating a collaborative feel with each and every client that walks through the door. From accessories to styling Wojtkiewicz aims to create pieces that reflect a woman's personality with an individual sense of style.

Text: Angela Gilltrap

Poland Fashion Week: Agatha Ruiz De La Prada

One can never accuse Agatha Ruiz de la Prada of creating mournful collections in depressing colors. The larger-than-life Spanish designer was a guest at Poland Fashion Week this season gracefully showing her latest collection. Vivid colors in lamé and felt strutted down the catwalk to Olivia Newton John's '80s classic "Zanadu" — a fitting tribute for these flashbacks-to-big-shoulder fashion.

Hearts were everywhere — heart framed sunglass, metallic hearts on pink skirts — in the background, in the foreground, it would seem love was all around.

Inspired by artists such as Picasso, Warhol and Chillida, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada's signature tunic and legging combos abounded with ruffled skirts and textured dresses. The piece de resistance... a muffin-type tiered dress in pinks and blue. Not exactly work wear, but who says fashion always has to be serious?

Text: Angela Gilltrap