Former J. Crew Designer Makes a Statement With Her Own Jewelry Line

Although she just debuted her first individual line this year, Lisa “Lele” Sadoughi is no stranger to the jewelry industry.

From 2006-2011 Sadoughi worked as jewelry-design director at J. Crew, where she created a successful seasonal collections for the popular clothing store. Prior to J. Crew, she worked at Ippolita in 2005 and designed custom private label pieces for Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic, Anthropologie and Club Monaco.

Currently, Lele is the design director for Tory Burch as well as the founder and creative director of Lele Sadoughi Designs. Sadoughi took time out of her schedule to speak to JCK about design, style, and future of the jewelry industry.

JCK: Where do you find your design inspirations?

Lisa Sadoughi: I love to scour flea markets all over the world. I recently spent some time in Marrakech, Morocco digging through piles of dusty jewels in the shops throughout the souks. I also make several trips a year to the Picture Collection on the 3rd floor of the Bryant Park Library. It is the place where broken books lay to rest, and you can rent out tear sheets from these battered books. I soak up anything that is grand with scale and color. This season (Fall/Winter2013) I was inspired by the lunar shapes and colors of the galaxy.


Saturn earrings, photo courtesy of Robert Stoetzel

JCK: What types of metals and stones do you work with?

LS: The materials I use are steel, brass, copper, glass, enameled paints, and both genuine and semiprecious stones. I’ve also worked hard to incorporate movement into my work—items move, flutter, swing. It really infuses such song into the pieces, and I believe it’s important that jewelry moves with you. I love the look of natural stones mixed with enamels and crystals. I also designed some home pieces (“jewelry for the home”, as I like to call it) such as napkin rings, candle holders, and place card holders. For the home collection, I used the same elements and stones from my jewelry.

JCK:Where do you see the future of the jewelry industry going, both in terms of design and commerce?

LS: Coming from Texas, I truly admire big and bold. Modern day women want to differentiate themselves from others and therefore want to wear pieces that make them stand out. As designers, we need to constantly think big and make new, exciting products. For me, there’s nothing better than a big, colorful necklace to draw attention to and express a sparkling, bold personality.

There is jewelry for every woman, and I think that the market offering of small and dainty as well as bold and strong really makes something available to everyone. As opposed to trends, I think it’s important you find what enhances and works best for you and stay to it without being overly rigid–exploring is the fun part of jewelry.


Comet necklace, photo courtesy of Robert Stoetzel

JCK: What is your favorite item in your jewelry box?

LS: My wedding band is definitely my favorite piece (I got married last year). I envisioned an alternating mix of round and baguette stones, which is what I created. I love it and have never seen anything like it.

JCK: How does your new line differ from your designs at J. Crew?

LS:  Having my own line lets me truly create without restrictions. I learned so much about merchandising at J. Crew, but now I can really create pieces on a grander scale that evoke my personal passions and serve as an outlet for strong expression.

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