What do the business end of a flail, oversize rings set with miniature portraits, and hulking bangles with stingray have in common? All are part of Sofie Cawood’s emerging jewelry collection that features the unifying element of bold and funky.
Maryville, Tenn.–based Cawood debuted her line at the JA show this week in the New Designer Gallery. There she exhibited life-preserver-size cuffs and bangles in oxidized silver with stingray, borderline-creepy people portraits set in obese leaf-motif 18k gold mountings, and—my favorite—an oxidized silver suite of bracelets featuring spiked-head barbell toggles that worked in unison to create one badass big piece.
Cawood’s designs are not for shrinking violets, even though the artist herself is no rabble-rouser (Cawood looks as though she’s barely out of her teens and brought her mom and dad—so sweet!—to help her work the booth). Cawood studied photography at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and her oversize aesthetic was inspired by her mom’s style choices (think big jewelry). Motifs collection-wide are varied but bound together by massive frames that are sometimes supplemented by a cousin’s acrylic handiwork on shells. “Big and chunky is my aesthetic,” Cawood explains of her jewelry made in Asheville, N.C.
But besides the fascinating jewelry, Cawood had another intriguing tale taking place in the form of Alexis Bittar–level brilliant marketing efforts. Remember Bittar’s unofficially named anti-ageist ad campaign from earlier this year? Well, Cawood is doing something similar on a smaller budget with local models doubling as friends and personalities.
Inspired by photographer Tim Walker—“he’s a Vogue photographer who snaps photos of people off the street,” she says—Cawood’s images are portraits of real people she knows and admires for their strong personal style. “I took four people I admired with different styles and tastes, told them to bring four outfits, and to make my jewelry theirs for a photo shoot,” she says. To wit, her company tagline is “Make It Yours.”
Models include 23-year-old Caitlin with an eclectic sensibility and her fortysomething on-trend mom, 70-year-old style maven Lee with a mile-wide smile and an energy that leaps off a page (“she looks like somebody you would want to have a drink with,” observed both Cawood’s pop and jewelry blogger Becky Stone of Diamonds in the Library), and a late-twentysomething party girl Chante. Each shot is more authentic than the next, and all speak to Cawood’s message of fearlessness and proud self-expression through accessorizing and embracing your own fabulous style, however you decide to “Make It Yours.”
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