Designer Watch: What a Designer Interview Reveals

If you haven’t yet read Jennifer Heebner’s blog posting here on containing the extended interview of Padma Lakshmi, do! Whether you’re a retailer, a designer or simply a jewelry aficionado, there are interesting insights to be gleaned.


I am a great fan of Bravo TV’s show Top Chef, the popular culinary competition for which Ms. Lakshmi serves as host as well as a judge. Now the same thoughtfulness with which she evaluates the show’s contestants surfaces in her discussion of the process of developing her jewelry line.


When I’d first heard of Lakshmi’s jewelry line some months ago in the fashion press, it was in conjunction with some editorial coverage that focused on a kitschy design of fish skeleton earrings and a tie-in to a food theme. The line has proved to be much more intriguing than that early press would have suggested.


Any designer interview no doubt will focus on the creative process and the inspiration behind a jewelry line or collection. What to watch for in an interview is a designer’s articulation of his or her personal style aesthetic. This identifies for you the market niche that will identify with the line. Note that the style aesthetic described is likely to fit into one or more of the seven style personalities I’ve discussed in this blog and at greater length in the book Jewelry Savvy. And if that personality style is a niche market that you as a retailer choose to target, you may have found a good fit.


Of course, the designer may not speak the language of personality styles, and may take a broader, more optimistic view of the appeal of his or her line than the limitations of the design might suggest. For example, Ms. Lakshmi relates in the extended interview that her jewelry is “designed to look good on everybody and every age.” This is, of course, the wishful thinking of every designer. However, she continues:  


A lot of jewelry now is big and statement oriented, but women don’t want to upstaged by what they’re wearing, they want to be enhanced. Everything has a moving part—pieces move on the wrist or dance on a woman’s ear.


What Lakshmi is revealing is that she, herself, feels upstaged by large, chunky jewelry, and she should: she is a former model, fine-boned and slender with delicate features. Chunky jewelry would not reflect her as the artist. For many women, however, who have larger figures, faces or even personalities, larger pieces are the perfect enhancement.


What Lakshmi does view as enhancing to the wearer is jewelry with movement, and she designs all her jewelry to have this characteristic. This falls squarely within the Alluring personality style I’ve described in a previous post. Here’s my introduction to the extended description of the Alluring personality style from Jewelry Savvy:


The Alluring personality likes to project a sexy or glamorous image. She takes a “look at me” approach to dressing. Her jewelry often includes movement and undulating design.


Lakshmi confirms this characterization with her subsequent statement that the jewelry “is designed for the needs of modern women who want to feel sexy.” And of course, this focus for her jewelry makes sense too. She is known for her sexy television persona and her form-fitting dresses. The jewelry reflects the designer. And she acknowledges as much:


This is not just some celebrity with another jewelry line—it is a labor of love. We’re not pushing out a million units by 2010. I just wanted to make pretty things that I would wear.

And pretty things that, no doubt, many other women, wanting to wear jewelry that makes them feel sexy, will want to wear, too.

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