Late last week, Banter by Piercing Pagoda announced that Grammy-nominated rapper, songwriter, and artist Tierra Whack has assumed the role of the brand’s first-ever creative director. It’s a yearlong gig that has been kicked off with a jewelry collaboration that places Whack’s distinctive, bold, and unapologetic style (in both rap and aesthetics) at the heart of the collection with pieces that are offbeat and irreverent, whimsical and playful, and just plain charming.
With nearly 800,000 Instagram followers, a ton of catchy, colorful hits, and a Grammy nomination (for her Mumbo Jumbo video in 2019), Whack’s involvement is for sure the headline here. But a compelling part of the story is that jewelry designer Malyia McNaughton (a rising star in the indie designer space) was the creative who translated Whack’s ideas into a cohesive jewelry collection.
McNaughton, a member of the Black in Jewelry Coalition, was part of the inaugural Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative (EDDI), the new program powered by the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and Lorraine Schwartz that is being sold at Greenwich St. Jewelers.
When Banter reached out to McNaughton last fall to discuss the collaboration, she didn’t know who the celebrity creative director would be.
“When I found out it was Tierra, I was thrilled because I’ve always been a fan of her music,” says McNaughton. “And the way that she’s super creative in expressing herself, it was the perfect collaboration for me.”
Banter was keen to work with McNaughton because of her popular Progression hoops. “They’re very gold-rich in their in their collections, so they thought that the collaboration would be a great fit for me. And when they reached out, it was a dream come true because when I was growing up, Piercing Pagoda was my introduction to jewelry. I received a bracelet from my aunt, who’s no longer with us, as a graduation gift, and it came from Piercing Pagoda. I started my brand because I wanted to make accessible statement jewelry that could be worn by a wider audience. And this opportunity really allows me to do that.”
The collection is priced from $95 to $1,750.
And working with Whack? “When I saw her notebook, I wasn’t intimidated by the fact that it was a lot of ideas kind of going everywhere. I was like, ‘OK, I get it,’ ” says McNaughton. “She’s mega, super, immensely creative. And she’s colorful, she’s versatile, and you can’t really pinpoint one aesthetic and stick it to her. She’s very much in her own skin, super authentic and comfortable. And I can relate to that.”
“She’s a hoop girl, something everyone knows I love too, and she’s very into bangles, and I love bracelets and bangles. So we had a lot of similarities in the jewelry that we’re drawn to. And so I would say that we’re connected in the fact that we’re both creatives in the sense that we want to be authentic.”
Whack provided rough sketches and images for inspiration to convey the direction she wanted the line to take. “And so with that, I took those pieces that she wanted to see in the collection and gave them my own spin. We created some really cool, fresh new pieces that spoke to Tierra, but still I was able to come in with my authentic voice and allow that to shine through.”
A few more fun, shiny things from the Tierra Whack collaboration below.
Top: Rapper and Banter by Piercing Pagoda creative director Tierra Whack wears the Wiggity Whack hoops in 10k gold, $1,275
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