JCK Asks…Lene Dahlgren



We just dig her Vibe’s

The biggest misconception about pearls, says Danish designer Lene Vibe Dahlgren, is that they’re “something your grandmother is wearing.” And if you saw her lustrous multicolored Tahitian pearl body chain draped across a bikini-clad model in last month’s JCK…well, you’d never picture granny in that, would you? For two decades, Dahlgren has been shattering misconceptions for her brand Vibe’s. Fun fact: The Copenhagen-based artist—who also favors chunky yellow gold and raw and rose-cut diamonds—still finds inspiration in the ­fairy tales of fellow countryman Hans Christian ­Andersen. Her favorite? “?‘The Little Match Girl,’?” she replies. “It is ­heartbreaking!”

18k gold, blackened silver, aquamarine, and diamond earrings

Age: I am 43.

Number of years in the biz: 20

Number of employees you oversee: None; I work on my own.

Family and pets: Two boys, Holger, almost 7, and Svend, 10. I also have a lovely cat named Benjamin; he is 2.

Svend and Holger

Describe your personal style: Boots, leather pants, T-shirt and cashmere sweaters, mostly in black.

First piece you ever designed: A silver pendant for my grandmother. I was 12.

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: The latest new piece from the bench.

Favorite kind of pearl: Besides the black Tahiti pearl, it must be the rare conch pearl.

Benjamin

The one piece of pearl jewelry every woman must have in her jewelry box: A large Tahiti or South Sea pearl, decorated with 18k gold and a few diamonds and on a braided linen cord.

Best advice you ever received: “Follow your heart.”

Worst advice: “Don’t turn your hobby into your livelihood.”

First job ever: Dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant.

18k gold ring with South Sea pearl and diamonds

How did you get started designing jewelry? I took my first jewelry class when I was 12, then I forgot about it. Unfortunately, I had three rings stolen when I was 21 and the goldsmith who made them for me was very slow when I asked to remake them, so I decided to do it myself. Since then I have been making jewelry.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I would be an interior designer.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Eight rings, all in 18k with rough and polished diamonds; a very large Tahiti pearl on a cord; and a heart in 18k with an old antique-cut diamond, a pendant in 18k made with a tiny piece of an old mirror from Venice, also with rough and polished diamonds, and a South Sea pearl with a snail and a few diamonds—all on the same cord.

Five items on your desk right now: Calculator, a stuffed bird, fresh roses from my garden, a glass of water, and a large conch shell.

Five songs on your playlist: “Fix You,” Coldplay; “The Man Who Sold the World,” David Bowie; “Calm After the Storm,” The Common Linnets; “Fake Empire,” The National; “Let England Shake,” PJ Harvey.

Exercise regimen: I ride my bike to my studio every day, and it takes 45 minutes each way.

What did you have for breakfast? Two boiled eggs, a slice of dark bread, and a cup of coffee.

Drink (daytime/evening): Coffee, mint tea, and water, and then a glass of wine.

Scent: Kiehl’s cucumber essence; unfortunately they don’t make it anymore.

How do you unwind? Playing with my kids, working in my garden, or reading a book.

Tilda Swinton

One don’t-miss spot in Copenhagen: Tage Andersen Boutique: He is the most extraordinary flower artist I have ever seen—his flower universe/­boutique is amazing!

Superstitious? Only if I see a black cat crossing the street.

Book you’re reading: Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men and Christian Moerk’s Darling Jim.

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: Ken Follett’s books.

Preferred news source: “Newspaper” on my iPhone.

Main means of transportation: My bike.

Favorite movie: Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blue.

Who would play you in your life story? Tilda Swinton.

Personal motto: “I can, and I will!”