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.
One of Xenia’s iconic and dramatic “waterfall” necklaces. AMAZING!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Knowing how hard it can be finding gifts that are meaningful and also budget friendly, we’ve decided to feature some of our favorite accessories and pieces of jewelry under $150.00. If you’re still doing your Christmas shopping and are looking for items that are fun but still sophisticated, definitely stop by; we have fantastic presents for all of the stylish men and women on your list this year!
The ever popular Hitchcock Madrona bangle cuffs available in sterling silver, rose and yellow gold
Barbour rain boots
Simple stone drop earrings. We have many incarnations of this design in various stones and metals.
Winifred Grace dove necklace
Barbour wool scarf
Hitchcock Madrona gold disc earrings
Pantherella cotton socks
Hitchcock Madrona loops earrings (gold or silver) and Xenia Mara earrings (various styles available)
These are just a sampling of the many great gifts we have in stock right now! We are open everyday between now and Christmas Eve.
Xenia visited us today and brought the largest collection of jewels she has ever dropped off. They are going to be great gifts this season.
One of my favorite styles by Xenia, her “goddess” layers of vintage chain. Everyone needs one of these!
I will feature more pieces on the blog in outfit posts throughout the month.
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!
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!
Before I left for vacation I persuaded Claire, barista at the Hi Spot Cafe, to get jeweled up and let me snap her photo. Her hair was down that day (it is normally piled on top of her head in a “Claire bun”) and she looked just like a model a la Ralph Lauren. She doesn’t have a stitch of make-up on – zero. She did have a glass of wine to loosen up before the photo shoot though. As you can see we had fun – I will make her my model again!
Cotton scarf by Hitchcock Madrona. Arrowhead ring by Pamela Love.
Gold thread and chain necklace by Venessa Arizaga.
Vintage chain and labradorite bracelet by Xenia Mara. Arrowhead ring by Pamela Love – also available in black. These rings are so hot!
Copper and leather cuff by Hitchcock Madrona (her right hand).
I am back from vacation and I have TONS of blogging material!