Blogs: All That Glitters / Designers / Fashion / Silver

Ariana Boussard-Reifel Is Here for Jason Wu’s F/W 2021 Runway in Spirit

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But in the flesh? Jewelry designer Ariana Boussard-Reifel is living in Montana, baby. With an actual baby—her newborn, Anaya, who arrived in August. In fact, it was Anaya’s impending arrival that prompted Boussard-Reifel and her husband to abruptly leave New York City last March. The gravity of the pandemic had begun to engulf the city, and out of an abundance of caution, they moved to her parents’ ranch out West.

There, the designer built a temporary studio and set up operations so that she could maintain her jewelry design business and vintage jewelry site, Marteau, remotely (with lots of help from her associate Arielle Routhier, who’s in Brooklyn, N.Y.).

Ariana Boussard Reifel portrait
The designer at her parents’ ranch near Missoula, Mont. A highlight from her topsy-turvy year in Big Sky Country was being featured in Vogue as one of 50 American designers changing the face of fashion. (Photo courtesy of Ariana Boussard-Reifel)

“I think that preparing to be a mom prepared me for the COVID era,” says Boussard-Reifel. “I was already mentally working to feel okay about having less independence, less glamour, less time and freedom. Anaya has been an absolute joy, and I’m lucky that she is a good sleeper. That makes it possible for me to keep my business alive. I do wear her most of the day, except when polishing and soldering, and we slowly get things done.”

Boussard-Reifel’s creative process has changed by necessity. “My ideas have to go into the world with fewer refinements,” she says, “but this is as much about working remotely as it is about doing everything with a baby on my hip. Being away from New York, being in isolation, and being a mom are all pushing me to strip away anything extra in the workflow.

“I feel like I’m never finished and I want time to really think, but that never happens. The quiet moments are for emailing, and not ideating, and I think that will be the big struggle for my work in the long run.”

Still, even while acknowledging these challenges, the designer was able to pull off something pretty wonderful: Dark Flowers, the eight-piece capsule she created with fashion designer Jason Wu. Unveiled as part of Wu’s Fall/Winter 2021 runway presentation (one of the few live shows that occurred during this month’s New York Fashion Week), the jewelry flickered from the necks and ears of models walking briskly through a downtown space outfitted to look like a general store laden with fresh produce, flowers, and bottles of cola.

Ariana Boussard Jason Wu runway
Jason Wu’s Fall/Winter 2021 runway was held in an empty retail space in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood. (Photos, clockwise from top left: Jaime Thornton, Nina Westervelt, and Kevin Tachman)
ARB Jason Wu AW21 earrings
(Photo: Roberto Cowen)

Boussard-Reifel used her background in fine art to bring Wu’s prints to life in wearable sculptures that embrace botanical elements and silhouettes inspired by Mesoamerican Indigenous design codes. She handcrafted each piece—made in sterling silver, brass, and bronze—on the ranch, casting them in recycled metal using the lost-wax method.

Ariana Boussard Reifel Jason Wu hoop earrings
(Photo: Roberto Cowen)

Overall, says Boussard-Reifel, the jewelry conveys the idea that even in darkness, beautiful flowers bloom. No stranger to runway collabs, Boussard-Reifel says she’s proud of these pieces, even though they were made in haste. “They came quickly, from a mood board [Wu] sent me during a short Zoom conversation. A day later I had all the masters made, and I am thrilled with the outcome. It is the first design work since becoming a mom, or even since entering quarantine, that I feel really has a vision.”

Boussard-Reifel hopes to return to New York if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline. But in the meantime, “It is certainly an education to know that I can run my business from afar, just with fewer bells and whistles!”

Top: Stylized, gestural botanicals are the essence of Dark Flowers, Ariana Boussard-Reifel’s capsule for Jason Wu’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection. (Photo: Roberto Cowen)

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By: Amy Elliott

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