Check out the print issue of July JCK to see “The Foodie,” JCK’s exclusive chat with Padma Lakshmi about her new jewelry line. Featured here is extra interview content, with Lakshmi and InStyle’s Marion Fasel, that didn’t make the cut, as well as photo outtakes from the day of the jewelry shoot to understand the process of selecting pieces to appear in print.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi, including some tidbits that didn’t make it into print:
On how her cooking, modeling, and now jewelry all collided …
“My work in cookbooks came from travelling and a natural affinity for food. If I was modeling in Morocco, I would go to the local markets and taste new flavors and try to reproduce them at home. All that globe trotting led to sampling and tasting different foods. Then I made a documentary on food, and by the time my second cookbook came out, I had grown and evolved as a food writer and eater. …
“When you have been around fashion, and also as a model, you know what works for you. At the end of the day, you have a short selection of staples—a short cardigan, some silky tops, you have a funky jacket, and you have a few pairs of really lovely heels. After that it’s just the accessories, and I have always been an accessories girl. I’m the girl in jeans and white top, changing the earrings, changing the belt.”
On why she used 10k and 14k gold as opposed to 22k gold (traditionally used in Indian jewelry) …
“I grew up with 22k gold, which almost has a mustard or orange tint to it. Higher karat gold is softer. I wanted a lesser karat because that is a harder metal. When I need extra bend, I use 10k and 14k findings to help maintain the delicacy of the brand DNA. Bangles get banged, right?”
On what she wants JCK readers to know about her jewelry …
“Women can wear [the jewelry] with jeans and to the office. [The jewelry is] designed to look good on everybody and every age; it becomes part of your personal style. 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.”
On why she designed her own jewelry …
“I wasn’t finding what I wanted in the marketplace. I just wanted to wear jewelry on [Top Chef] that wouldn’t upstage my look. On TV, big jewelry can look ostentatious. [The Padma line] is designed for the needs of modern women who want to feel sexy. [The jewelry] is designed to be layered so all it all worked in tandem. You can wear it to brunch or to an anniversary party. Over time, you collect pieces and pass them on to your daughter. As a woman you have one or two pieces that you wear all the time, and I want these to be a personal talisman.”
On how the designs are brought to life …
“I draw what I’m thinking about and looking at. …I describe it on paper with crude drawings. My friend, Tara—we have been friends for six years—has been working for me for a year, and we have a kind of visual shorthand. I might say ‘make it this size’, and she’s hammering and soldering [on a prototype]. Then she takes it to 47th street to have a mold made.”
On her plans for growth ….
“In the fall [the line] will open at two retail outlets on the West Coast, in two Neiman Marcus stores in California. And we’ll have a web presence thru BergdorfGoodman.com. [The jewelry line] will grow slowly. We don’t want to expand so fast can’t that we get kinks out.”
On why did she choose Bergdorf Goodman for her debut …
“I have always loved that store. It has a good selection of merchandise and they are great curators with a brilliant eye for fashion. I wasn’t interested in being all things to all people, I [made the line] because I wanted these pieces. This is not a licensing deal. 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.”
On the day of the shoot, I lay out all of the jewelry sent in to be photographed. I look at pieces from an editorial perspective–which items best reflect the designer’s signature style and are most unique–while JCK art director, Todd Gast, assesses which pieces will photograph best. For example, the handpiece bracelet (top center) was important editorially, as Padma spoke about it often in the article, but, would have been too difficult to photograph on its own (on a model, it would have been fine, but this was not a model shoot).
This was one pair of earrings that we shot for print.
Here, you see part of the handpiece bracelet, a pair of earrings that were selected for print, and this elegant bracelet featuring marquise-shape citrines. This piece would look beautiful on the upper arm (of a very slender girl).
If you want to see which pieces made the print pages but don’t have a subscription, call (800) 305-7759 or (818) 487-4589 to order individual copies.
The complete interview with Marion Fasel, jewelry editor for InStyle Magazine, on Padma Lakshmi’s new jewelry line:
JCK: Padma told me that you recently spent a day together, looking through her jewelry and learning about her design influences. What surprised you most about Padma and her jewelry?
Fasel: Padma knows as much about jewelry as she does about cooking. She is so knowledgeable about amazing Indian jewelry styles and traditions but her understanding of the field doesn’t stop there. She also knows so much about vintage jewelry and even costume. She is a wealth of jewelry wisdom!
JCK: Alternatively, did you have any expectations going into the visit?
Fasel: When someone jumps fields in her case from cooking, modeling and tv host to another one you think they may not be passionate about it. But she is deeply passionate about jewelry.
JCK: What were you most impressed with in her jewelry designs?
Fasel: Her adventurous pieces like the front to back necklaces and hand pieces.
JCK: What about the designs and/or construction could be improved upon?
Fasel: For a first collection it is very impressive. It reflects Padma’s easy-sexy style and there are a lot of pieces to choose from so it is hard to criticize. As it develops I would love to see even more colorful stones and choker length chains, more hoops too.
JCK: Will consumers be enthused about this jewelry and the story behind it? Explain.
Fasel: I think they will like the jewelry not only because it comes from a popular celebrity, but just because it is so beautiful and easy to wear.
JCK: Pick one piece in the line that you really liked and explain why.
Fasel: I like the thick neck wire with the marquise shape stone. It is such a fresh new piece.
JCK: What makes Padma’s line unique in the jewelry world and why?
Fasel: She made it so it would be easy to wear — the kind of jewelry you toss on everyday. And I think it is. Sometimes in jewelry things are either too extravagant and formal or too funky and casual. Her jewelry fills a gap.
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