Artist Profile: Xenia Mara

Xenia Mara is a Seattle-based jewelry designer who handcrafts all of her pieces using vintage materials and semi-precious stones. Each necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings she makes is one of a kind, feminine, and glamorous without being over-the-top. Much of her jewelry can be easily layered and all of it is extremely versatile. We are so fortunate to have Xenia’s collection here at Hitchcock Madrona. Thank you, Xenia, for continually inspiring us with your beautiful and creative designs!

How would you describe your line’s aesthetic? 

Short answer: vintage inspired, with a modern yet classic sensibility and of course, one-of-a-kind. Well, and did I mention patina? I like a warm, worn-in, well-loved feel, so a fair amount of my work has patina.

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One of Xenia’s iconic and dramatic “waterfall” necklaces.  AMAZING!

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When you design your jewelry, is there any particular woman whom you design for? 

To be perfectly honest, I design every piece so that I love it first. But at the same time, I’m always thinking of a bright and confident woman who is inspired to look and do her best at whatever she does in life. As I’m designing, I sometimes reference icons like Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Elizabeth Taylor, Chanel, and even the Wilson sisters and Janis Joplin when my mood swings to vintage rock-n-roll …

What is your favorite way to style your pieces? 

Each piece has to stand on it’s own. That’s just a given. But I have a penchant for making things that are convertible: two clasps on a necklace allow multiple lengths, from long and draped to short and chunky when wrapped a few times around the neck; belts convert into necklaces and back; a long layered chain necklace turned sideways on itself transforms into a short looped chain neck piece. Why not have options? I love to engineer [the piece] so that the customer can customize the necklace to fit [her] needs or [her] mood of the moment.

But speaking to the question of styling, I love the way that Hitchcock layers my pieces. Their display work is inspired. But everyone knows that!

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I have doubled up!  Wearing two of Xenia’s chunky necklaces.

Where do you find inspiration for your collections?

My inspiration stems from the materials first and foremost; I design based on what chains and gemstones catch my eye. Sometimes I just play with a chain, draping it into different shapes. Possibly this method of working comes from my background as a clothing designer. To further explain it, my favorite reality TV show is Project Runway: I can totally relate to being given a project with a day or two to source and design and sew before having it reviewed by my instructors in front of my peers. In design school I could never sketch an idea on paper before having picked out the fabric and trims—the materials always inspired the design and I continue to work this same way as I drape the jewels and chains into their final forms.

What do you particularly love about designing jewelry? 

Designing jewelry is like making sculpture. I always wanted to try throwing pottery and sculpting because those disciplines involve working in three dimensions and I love working with my hands. Designing, as well as actually hand-making the jewelry, lets me express myself in this way.

What would you say are three key pieces of jewelry that every woman should own?  

I think this can change over time and certainly may differ from person to person. But elementally, jewelry that makes you smile, feel confident, sexy, womanly, edgy, empowered, beautiful and elegant would be key pieces. From my own collection, I would suggest a multi-chain layering piece as a foundation. On top of that, throw [on] a chunky strand of natural rock crystal or maybe a long pendant with some color. Swinging the other direction to a more delicate approach, what woman doesn’t deserve raw diamonds or sapphires on a fine gold or silver chain?

What aspect of the design process do you find most challenging? 

Committing to one particular idea when a material is in limited supply is the toughest challenge for me. For instance, if I only have a short length of a very fabulous vintage chain [then] I have only one chance to get the design just right … to do justice to that “bit” of the past that is awaiting a rebirth. I can agonize over it. I would also like to note that I do not scavenge intact vintage jewelry. I only use broken or discarded items or vintage chain factory over-runs.

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Speaking of fabulous vintage chain….

What clothing or jewelry designers do you admire? 

This is actually a very tough question to answer. I have a wide range of influences and find inspiration all over the design world. For vintage, of course I could not miss mentioning Miriam Haskell, Tiffany, Fortuny, Erté, Madame Grès, Vionnet, Balenciaga and everything Deco and Art Nouveau … no surprise there! I would have to give Ralph Lauren kudos for creating American classics (and what an empire!). Karl Lagerfeld is brilliant and prolific. Because I find pleating so cool, I have great respect for Issey Miyake and I’ve even gone so far as to hand-pleat silk using the Japanese technique of shibori pole-wrapping. I’ve always loved John Galliano, whether he’s being good or naughty. When I had the money, I could never resist Prada boots and heels. Because I love clever draping, I must now hail Haider Ackermann. And because I could go on forever with this list, I will end by saying that I’m still in mourning for the loss of Alexander McQueen (though his Sarah Burton is doing well holding down the fort somehow). 

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being a jewelry designer? 

I love what I do. Re-purposing vintage chains and other found items into new forms allows me creative expression, and I wake up excited each day to get to “work”. As Robert Frost describes in “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” “my vocation is my avocation.”  I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is good!

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Photo Shoot: Pioneer Woman

Here is the next “look” in our Kate photo shoot series. We just have too much fun dressing her up!  When you have a perfect model, a store full of fabulous merchandise, a good camera, and two people (Dustin and I) who have read Vouge since the womb, this is the outcome.

IMG_2147Hailwood Barbour Jacket

IMG_2120Vintage chain and amber chalcedony necklace by Xenia Mara (short). White prayer bead and coin necklace by Shannon Koszyk. Amber chalcedony necklace by Hitchcock Madrona.

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The hat Kate is wearing is the “Indiana Hat” by Lisa Battaglia. This is the last one that we have in stock!  Thank you to the five fabulous ladies (Kate is one of them!) that purchased Lisa’s designs. We cannot wait to carry her straw hats this spring/summer. Look for those on the blog around February.

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Just a reminder we are open tomorrow (Christmas Eve) until about 2:00. Yes, we still have product!  We just unpacked a new collection from Unearthen which I will photograph very soon.

XOXO

Erica


Obsession: Top Button & Statement Necklace

Do we all agree that the top button MUST be buttoned?  Yes, okay good.  But now, how do we wear necklaces??!  Collared shirts are always a bit tricky with necklaces – usually the necklace falls inside the collar on your skin.  If you want to button up your oxford a bigger necklace worn almost like a bow tie works well.  I thought this red tuxedo blazer and pressed shirt combo was a good palette to show how I wear a necklace with a high, buttoned up collar.

Amazing cooper “waterfall” necklace by Xenia Mara.  This piece is sooooo fabulous.  It works with literally everything (believe it or not!).  I love this necklace with just an athletic grey v-neck t-shirt, as much as with a silk cocktail dress a la Helmut Lang.  The chains reach all the way to your belly button (can I say button one more time in this post!?) and so I thought it would be cool to button (there I go again!) up the blazer too.  The necklace then disappears within the blazer.

Crocheted sterling silver and cotton thread necklace by Venessa Arizaga.  Evil doily or spider web?  Either way – yes!

I cannot stop wearing my MOSCOT frames.  They have become an essential in my fall wardrobe.

I chose the Pamela Love arrowhead necklace to show a more delicate look with a buttoned collar.  This works because the pendant has some weight.  It can’t be too delicate or the collar will be too strong.  The necklace also has to be over 18″ long.

I stuck with the arrowhead necklace to wear all day and paired it with dramatic earrings that play off the crude/organic vibe of the necklace.  These earrings are so unique!  They are made by Karazi Design, a new artist to Hitchcock Madrona.  I need to do a proper post on her work but for now check out these hand-carved antler (traditional Balinese design) earrings set in gold plated sterling silver.  Obsessed!

Sterling silver spine ring by Michael Spirito (middle finger) and sterling silver, moonstone and pink tourmaline snake ring also by Michael Spirito.

Let me see your top button and statement necklace combinations – post photos on our Facebook page!

XOXO

Erica


Officially Fall Outfit of the Day: Claire’s Return

Fall is in full swing around Hitchcock Madrona and we have all the cold weather gear you need from head to toe. Literally, we are selling hats, sweaters, coats, and socks. This season has been fun broadening our boutique’s offerings. We are so accustomed to selling jewelry that I get a big rush when we sell a pair of socks. Speaking of socks, we have some awesomely cozy and fabulous (of course) socks from Pantherella (England).  I am into the over-the-knee style and will figure out how to wear them asap. Blog post to come!

As you can see, I bribed Claire into another photo shoot. She even agreed to wear lipstick – I will turn her into a diva in no time!

Cashmere sweater by Hitchcock Madrona. Copper, brass and semi-precious stone necklaces by Xenia Mara (layered).  Hailwood coat by Barbour International.

Have I expressed my utter devotion to these short Barbour boots??!  Seriously, there is no reason why you should not own a pair.  Utilitarian Seattle chic. No brainer! I love them because they are a bit unexpected (not Hunter) and they are so light and easy to wear!  I get sore ankles when I wear the big, heavy, tall Wellies.  These are perfect to slip on and run out the door.

“Organic bling” of this druzy quartz ring by Hitchcock Madrona is perfect with the casual/outdoor style of the outfit.

We have sizes 7-9 in the short boots (all black).  They are running a bit big but I actually like that so that I can wear a wool sock comfortably.

How cool are these socks from Patherella?  Maroon, pink and cream. Perfection. I wore these with clunky platform heals and a jean skirt the other day.

Today was the first day of the season that I turned the heat on in the shop. Milestone!  Come visit and update your sock drawer!  I am sure it needs it – mine does!

XOXO

Erica


Outfit of the Day: 80’s Prep meets 90’s Grunge

Today I mixed my decades! On the top half, 1980’s popped collar prep featuring my Brooks Brother’s BOYS navy blazer and Jcrew white and pink oxford. There is something about a preppy blazer and that color pink that is so 1980’s (in a good way – I hope).  Then on the bottom half, my ratty old Levi 501’s that Dustin found in a thrift store (for himself) which I promptly stole and cut off to the most unflattering length that I could manage. The high heeled penny loafers feminize the outfit while tying it all together.

I am wearing one of my favorite gemstones ever – green amethyst. I actually buy more green amethyst than the traditional purple amethyst. It is so clear and sparkly with just a hint of mint green. It is so neutral but not boring at all. This is a great alternative for people with February birthdays that don’t love their birthstone.

Necklace: Green amethyst and vintage “V” chain necklace by Xenia Mara.

These earrings are so beautiful the stone is cut with tons of little facets so the light dances through.

Earrings: Green amethyst and vintage circle chain earrings by Xenia Mara.

My jeans are about 3 sizes too big for me and thus not the most flattering but, I like them!

Bracelets: (right hand) Pearl and vintage chain bracelet by Xenia Mara. (left hand) Rose quartz and bronze bangle by Lulu Frost, Seiko watch (personal), 14K gold filled bangle cuffs by Hitchcock Madrona.

I hope everyone is having a good late summer – we can’t complain about the weather here in Seattle. But fall is just around the corner (secretly excited).

XOXO

Erica


Fashion Flashback: Daisy Buchanan

We were feeling a bit stuffy in the shop today so we ventured to the garden of our favorite wine bar, Bottlehouse.  If you have never been to Bottlehouse in Madrona you must pop by.  They have the most wonderful selection of beverages and snacks.  Baguette with honey and creme fresh butter, please!  While gracefully sipping water (I know, but I had to go back to work!) I did my best to channel the fragile yet breathlessly beautiful “Daisy Buchanan”.  Step 1. Wear a large floppy hat.  Step 2. Pile on the pearls.  Of course, my “Daisy” had to have a little edge so I combined my pre-requisite pearls with this wonderful Xenia Mara hematite coated chain waterfall necklace.

Necklaces (top to bottom): 1) Pearl strand (personal). 2) Hematite covered chain and pyrite waterfall necklace by Xenia Mara. 3) Tiny seed pearl and pave diamond bead necklace by Hitchcock Madrona. 3) Ring Necklace by IOSSELLIANI (can’t really see this one).

Rings (right hand): 1) On my middle finger, I have my simple diamond eternity band. I am really enjoying this ring beacsue I can wear it on 4 out of ten fingers.  2) On my index finger I am loving my personal sterling silver signet ring.  Both designed by Hitchcock Madrona.  *More on the new signet ring to come!

(left hand): 1) On my index finger I am wearing a vintage sterling silver, enamel, ruby, and aquamarine ring procured in Paris by Hitchcock Madrona.  This was an amazing find in Paris!  I love the color combination – black (oxidized sterling silver), white (enamel), ruby and aquamarine.  Truly one-of-a-kind.  I am so lucky to have found a few great pieces for our collection in Paris (lucky because shopping with a 2 year old in a foreign city is impossible). 2) On my ring finger I am wearing some faux gold bands from my personal collection.

XOXO

Erica


Fashion Flashback: Splash!

Do you remember Daryl Hannah emerging from the ocean in Splash?  We do!

Necklaces (top to bottom): 1) Vintage Coral and brass chain by hitchcock Madrona. 2) “Sunken Treasure Necklace” comprised of chandelier crystal and vintage elements by Subversive Jewelry.  This looks like it was found at the bottom of the ocean!

Rings (left to right): 1) Snake ring by Eric Saeter (Kate’s own). 2)  “Oyster Ring” also by Eric Saeter.

Bracelets (left to right): 1) Vintage chain and pearl by Xenia Mara (another new one!). 2) Vintage Bakalite found by hitchcock Madrona.

XOXO

Erica