Even a passing glance at designer Emily P. Wheeler’s new collection will have you tapping your toe in anticipation of your next invitation to the ball. It’s a spangled dance floor filled with orchid corsages, marabou boas, and arms sheathed in shocking pink opera gloves. It’s the prom scene in The Virgin Suicides imbued with an Umbrellas of Cherbourg palette.
“It’s time to dress up” is the message of the Dress Up collection, and its imperative is deeply felt. Lollipop spirals comingle with “unicorn” bicolor spinels and the designer’s off-kilter X cigar bands, reimagined in vibrant gems and marshmallow-white enamel. Some of the designs are named after Disney princesses. And Wheeler’s signature hearts have come to the soiree to slay—some merely sweet, others unimaginably opulent.
Wheeler began designing the collection early on in the quarantine period, and she reveals diverse inspiration points: pop art, work by contemporary acrylic artists Betsy Enzensberger and Stephanie Roberts, and even children’s costume jewelry. Wheeler continued to add pieces to the Dress Up range throughout 2020 and this year, waiting to unveil it until a vaccine became available. That way, buyers and press could see the jewels in person. Plus, at this precise moment, the collective mood is much more optimistic.
The collection’s tennis necklaces and bypass heart rings are getting attention from some of the retailers who have seen the line, but Wheeler points out the Love earrings (pictured below) as an example of a Dress Up jewel that perfectly encapsulates the theme she hoped to express.
“They radiate love, which I hope the whole collection does,” she says. “They also incorporate enamel as a way to brighten the color palette of the ombré sapphires and add a little extra glamour. They also feel incredibly nostalgic to me—remember going through your mom’s jewelry box as a kid and clipping on the biggest, most decadent earrings you could find? That’s how these feel to me. They have a childlike spirit in super luxe materials.”
And what does one wear with such mega jewels, such dazzling Harajuku ice cream shop colors? There is a very beautiful lookbook styled by Micaela Erlanger and shot by Elizabeth Lippman to inspire you. Elaina Karras did the makeup—and the eyeliner is the cherry on top of all this.
See what I mean below.
Top: “I love the light, the earrings with the dress, the eyeliner…the whole thing!” says designer Emily P. Wheeler on her favorite shot from the campaign. (Photo by Elizabeth Lippman)
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