Just In: Venessa Arizaga Spring 2013 Collection

Venessa Arizaga’s Spring/Summer collection is here! These pieces are stunning. Many have a glamorous, almost rock-n-roll feel to them and feature metals and darker threads, whereas others are super playful and bright.

Venessa is a true original in the fashion world. Trained as a fashion designer at Parson’s in New York, she had stints at Carolina Herrera and later at Zac Posen, where she served as Design Director, before breaking out on her own and starting her own line. A favorite of the hyper-fashionable, her line is beautifully executed (plus, all of it is handmade in Brooklyn – we love supporting designers who are committed to making their pieces in the U.S.). She regularly describes herself and her designs as “magpie” like, in that she is a constant collector of all things pretty and shiny and her jewelry reflects that (minimalist she in not). We so appreciate the spirit of her work, its craftsmanship and her creative vision.

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I absolutely love this black and pearl collar. I am such a die hard pearl fan that this combination would fit right into all my layers. It is edgy but demure at the same time. I find I have to edge my pearls up (wear with ripped jeans or black eyeliner) so they don’t look too old.

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Venessa’s spring collection features lavender and pink thread. I love how these feminine colors can lighten up an outfit. She is so skilled at mixing pastels or demure pearl with heavy black chain.  Perfection.

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Who doesn’t need a sterling silver web around their neck? I know I DO.

Come in and check out the rest of the spring collection. We also have corresponding bracelets.

XOXO

Erica


Just In: Pamela Love Spring Collection

Pamela Love’s spring collection has arrived! Love’s amazing jewelry is regularly featured in magazines like Vogue and Elle. Her unique and playful designs imply rock-and-roll and Southwestern influences and have been perfectly executed and imbued with just the right amount of edge. Currently in stock are necklaces ideal for layering, statement rings and dramatic cuffs. Her work is amazing – stop by and check it out!

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Obsession: Gemstone Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli is a stone that has been prized by many cultures for thousands of years. Sites where lapis has been mined are as far ranging as Siberia, Afghanistan, the Andes, and Colorado and California in the U.S. Lapis, a semi-precious stone, has long been valued for its rich blue color and there is evidence that it was traded as long ago as the third millennium B.C.E. by cultures like the Indus Valley civilization in ancient India. The ancient Egyptians were especially fond of lapis lazuli and incorporated it into their jewelry (like their famous scarab pendants) and into their religious and ceremonial objects. Cleopatra used a powdered form of lapis lazuli as eye shadow. Later, painters regularly used it when they needed to feature a rich blue color in their paintings. You can still see lapis in its powdered form in art works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; for many centuries, it was regularly used as the color of the Madonna’s brilliantly blue robe.

Lapis lazuli still has a following today. Pamela Love and Maria Carter use it to maximum affect in their jewelry designs. At Hitchcock Madrona, we decided to showcase some of our favorite lapis lazuli pieces currently in stock. Lapis lazuli often has traces of pyrite (commonly known as “fool’s gold”) in it, and many of our favorite lapis pieces have a shimmering quality as a result.

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Outfit of the Day: I’ve got Sunshine (Pants) on a Cloudy Day

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I am trying to inspire the sunshine with my clothing choices. But, it is still pretty gloomy (but, yeah, no snow!) in Seattle. Maybe that is why I look like I am angry in this photo?

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Faceted onyx and gold plated sterling drop earrings by Hitchcock Madrona.

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Two medallion necklaces by Shannon Koszyk (shortest and longest). Pyrite and labradorite layering necklaces by Hitchcock Madrona. Onyx and sterling silver ring by Crystal Hartman.

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Sterling silver cuff by Crystal Hartman. Gold plated sterling “oyster” ring by Eric Saeter.

XOXO

Erica


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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Just In: Unearthen

We recently received a new shipment of jewelry from Unearthen. One of the most distinctive lines we carry here at Hitchcock Madrona, Unearthen was founded by Gia Bahm. She creates necklaces, rings, and bracelets that prominently feature crystals. Each of the crystals she chooses for her designs have specific properties that are meant to promote certain health benefits for their wearers. Additionally, it is Bahm’s intent when designing that the crystal she uses should appeal uniquely to its wearer, and that there should be an inherent property in the crystal which attracts its eventual owner. The pieces we currently have in stock are all quartz crystal, which is purported to have general healing properties and is thought to be a powerful stone.

These pieces are edgy, playful, and fun! The crystals are incorporated into designs that showcase their natural, organic shapes to the fullest. While they can be worn alone as statement pieces, Unearthen designs can be easily layered and many of necklaces would work really well as  “second skin jewelry” to be worn every day.

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Artist Profile: Crystal Hartman

We asked designer Crystal Hartman to answer our artist questionnaire. She is one of the most recent designers to join Hitchcock Madrona and she recently created a line of sterling silver jewelry exclusively for us! Crystal makes of all of her jewelry by hand in Durango, Colorado, her home town. The craftsmanship of her work is extraordinary, and her designs are elegant and timeless. Read all about her design philosophy below:

How would you describe your line’s aesthetic?

Sculptural…solid designs heavy in detail referencing botanical illustration and the movement of water, grass and air.

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

I love the idea of all women wearing my jewelry, but I certainly design for the strong. I love a woman with “feist” in her eyes. The designs are heavy silver with stones set in them to stay; they will withstand being worn on stage, round the world, and to a very fine dinner.

What is your favorite way to style your pieces?

Layers…I like the rings with stones oddly stacked over bands. I like to see the bracelets layered with strands of navy or deep red glass beads, leather or lace tied round the wrist to remember love and texture. I like classic roses; feathers, driftwood and fabrics that emphasize beauty in the line work but remind us a bit of the physical strength of the jewelry in a subtly psychological way.

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A sampling of some of Crystal’s pieces that we have in stock. How beautiful are these?!

Where do you find inspiration for your collections?  

Music, film, travel and contemporary art and history. This line [at Hitchcock] was influenced by the giant, red rock walls and purple grama bursting between [them] at Indian Creek and the water rippling beneath it [in] Utah, [and] by the blue sky breaking to grey in late October [in] Seattle. I am egged on by E.E. Cummings, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Andre Breton, Caravaggio and Woody Allen, by Jonah Skurky-Thomas, Rebecca Tischler, Rachel Mindel, The Panoply, and sound… each album that catches the light in my ears just right at any moment…

On these pieces for Hitchcock Madrona: Cole Porter, Hurray for the Riff Raff, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, LCD Soundsystem, Billie Holiday, The Black Keys, Louis XIV and Ibrahim Ferrer played great inspiration.

What do you particularly love about designing jewelry?  

The tradition, process and accessibility of it. I love to pour beauty into an object that will be worn on someone’s hand or heart to remember a time or display a feeling [and] into an object that is at once contemporary art and functional adornment.

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Crystal at work!

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

I used to be daunted by the enormity of the industry, of all of the different techniques and styles and the desire to try them all out. As I’ve developed a conversation with the materials that fear has faded into excitement… most challenging now is the time it takes to see a process through. With so many possibilities, it is easy to dream up a thousand designs. Choosing the freshest ones and introducing them to the design world takes perseverance.

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One of the wax molds Crystal uses to create her jewelry – she employs a technique known as the “lost wax process”.

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

Letters from lovers. And knowing that the pieces I design will help define an individual. A long time ago, I heard a story about modern man; the narrator [of the story] said that what distinguished him [modern man] was when he hung the first bead round his neck – adornment as an expression of individuality. I am honored to design pieces that are truly unique, where we see and feel my hand in them and no one will have another that is the same.

What clothing or jewelry designers do you admire?  Asagi Maeda, Alexander Calder, Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel, Agnes B., and Mervin Stilson (an outrageous cobbler down the street from my studio).

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This is a piece that was just cast.  It now has to be cleaned, polished, oxidized and polished again!  Each one of Crystal’s unique pieces is understated but also incredibly detailed.

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

A band ring that fits on several different fingers and can be worn alone everyday or stacked with others when she likes. A strong, great bracelet. A conversation piece… something big and bold and certainly made by hand.