Oscar de la Renta’s Spring runway presentation in New York on Sept. 11 featured supermodel sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid, a front row packed with hip-hop superstars, and elegant-but-easy clothes that took inspiration from the Silk Road (think luxe caftans and djellabas).
Adding age-old shine to the mix was jewelry that underscored the collection’s multicultural feel: bold necklaces and earrings anchored by creatively cut-out vermeil coins accented by pearls, red coral, and simple leather cord.
The pieces popped on the models as they walked the runway—not so much because of their size (which was ample) or sheen (which was gleaming), but more due to the jewelry’s singularity. The pieces felt absolutely fresh, but also like treasures plucked from a trove of antiquities.
Soon after the show, we discovered that much of the jewelry was the result of a collaboration between the fabled fashion house and Stacey Lee Webber, an independent jewelry designer and sculptor based in Philadelphia.
We asked Webber to share how the collaboration came to be:
JCK: What was the first contact between you and the creatives at Oscar de la Renta?
Stacey Lee Webber: I got DMed on Instagram by the concept director, David Aliperti! Which was just hilarious. At first, I didn’t really understand what was happening. Then I slowly realized who he was and what he was asking about. He was like, “Hey, I love your stuff. Would you be interested in working on a jewelry capsule for a collection?”
I was very suspect [laughs]. But I was like, “Yeah!” I’m usually a yes person. I told him to come on out to Philly, and he did come out. Once I met him I discovered he’s a super-awesome, chill person—he’s the best.
What happened when he came to your studio?
He came to Philly three times. And once he brought these bracelets of mine he’d bought years ago and said he’d been following my work. I was really surprised.
He explained that they wanted this higher-end, more expensive line for the collection. For every collection, David presents this 100-or-so-page packet of the ideas for the season, so he showed me the packet for the Spring ’19 collection that was all about the Silk Road.
It included the colors that would be used, the inspirations. And he explained that they wanted this collection to be more jewelry-heavy than what they usually do, because of the concept.
A Stacey Lee Webber designer earring on the runway and in close-up (via: @staceyleewebber)
How did the design ideas for the jewelry materialize?
The start was picking 10 coins using the themes of women, flowers, and animals. Then they wanted gold color, so we talked about how to get to gold and finally settled on vermeil over silver. That reached a better price point for them and still was a high-quality material. [Like most designer fashion brands, Oscar de la Renta’s jewelry legacy has largely been built on costume jewelry designs.]
In all, we created around 25 pieces, but some of the pieces we called components—just a coin sphere or the like. David took some of these and did beading and more relaxed leather stringing.
Was a jewelry designer from Oscar de la Renta involved?
They continued working with their jewelry designer on certain pieces, and the jewelry that ended up being used on the runway was about half mine.
David explained to me throughout the process that there’s always a chance that the jewelry I was making would not be used or be barely used. So I knew that. The whole time I’m like, “Hmm, let’s see how this goes.” [laughs]
[Oscar de la Renta designers] Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia and the stylist pick what they want for the show ultimately, out of the jewelry that’s been created. They paid me for the samples, but I knew there was a chance my designs wouldn’t see the light of day!
That must have been a crazy feeling!
It was such a crazy different way of working for me.
Then, David and I then went back and forth over text with images, perfecting the designs, for months.
We’re such makers [Webber works with her husband, Joe Leroux]. So pretty much how we’ve got along in the studio is by looking at materials and kind of changing and building as we go. To come at something in a whole different way—sitting down and thinking about what would be the coolest thing we could do for this customer—it was so fun.
The pace they work at is insane, too. The whole thing was under three months, from that first Instagram DM to making and delivering the jewelry to NYC. But I have nothing but great things to say about it.
It was really one of the truest collaborations I’ve ever done. David had a vision but he was also really open to my ideas and where I wanted to go with it.
A pearl-fringed earring on the runway (via: @staceyleewebber)
What were David and the brand’s reactions to the final pieces?
They were so excited about the collection, which was so awesome. On the runway, they did the one-earring look, which made one of my earrings really prominent in the show. And for the jewelry to walk on their headline models, the Hadids—it was just so cool.
Runway jewelry is often not offered at retail—will your pieces be produced?
They own all the jewelry and designs, and yes, that’s their plan—to figure out how to market this unique artist capsule that’s at a higher-than-normal price point. There are already a few pieces on Moda Operandi [a site known for selling direct-from-runway fashion].
What’s your feeling about it all now that it’s over?
It was so cool to be attached to Oscar de la Renta. I mean, of all the brands out there! Also, David is such a great person to work with and he’s so passionate. It changed the way I think about projects. I really feel like this has put some fire up our a**es!
Top: Gigi Hadid in Stacey Lee Webber X Oscar de la Renta earring, via @staceyleewebber (All jewelry images courtesy of Stacey Lee Webber)
Follow me on Instagram: @emilivesilind