With its Kool-Aid colors and chunky beads, Robinson Pelham’s Arcadia collection probably would have knocked my socks off had I been able to see it in person last summer in Las Vegas, where it would have premiered. But instead, the line launched quietly over in London, where the brand is based, and I heard nothing about it. Until now.
The fact that three new colorways—pink, blue, and green ombré, to complement the original rainbow story—have been added to the collection isn’t the biggest headline to land in my inbox of late, but it did provide a kind of amuse-bouche, one intriguing enough to make me want to know the larger story behind Arcadia. The collection was originally concepted during the pandemic, when Robinson Pelham founders Vanessa Chilton, Kate Pelham Burn, and Zoe Benyon recognized a need for ultrawearable, spirited, and fun fine jewelry that could be easily gifted or self-purchased, and provided an additional styling option for their best-selling EarWish charms (which, as the name suggests, can also be affixed to hoop earrings).
Made of Murano glass, and produced via traditional lampworking methods, the beads strung on each bracelet or necklace have been hand-selected so that each design is a unique color statement.
Adding an extra layer of interest—and a nostalgic ’70s context, one at the apex of the disco and punk-rock eras—is the fact that Lisa Bayer (aka @sketchnyc) designed the creative for a new campaign that highlights the pieces. Doing so was a way to give the full collection the fanfare it deserves.
Bayer was asked to create drawings of three iconic women wearing the Arcadia necklaces styled in a fresh, contemporary way: Debbie Harry of Blondie, Grace Jones, and actress Farrah Fawcett (pictured up top).
“We sat and talked about growing up,” said Chilton in some remarks she and her cofounders prepared to give insight into Arcadia’s deeper significance beyond the juicy novelty of the colored beads. “The ’70s were when we formed our first memories. The summers were hot and interiors were avocado, green, and orange. We played on space hoppers and rode around on chopper bikes and roller skates. How better to encapsulate this feeling than with people that remind you of this era?”
Pelham Burn noted, “It’s about feeling good and wearing something that makes you happy. It takes you back to being the little person dressing up with beads around your neck. Only this time they are a little more precious. An illustration is an easy way of inspiring nostalgia, and pop art is the look and feeling of our nostalgia.”
The founders have also identified the perfect charity partner: During the production of each Arcadia jewel, any bead that does not get used will be given to Beads of Courage UK to help children commemorate treatment milestones during their hospital journey (i.e., a special bead for each procedure, test, or surgery).
Top: Robinson Pelham chose Farrah Fawcett as one of its Arcadia style icons because of her “kick-ass independence, a career as a racing driver…and the hair,” according to the brand. (Illustration by @sketchnyc)
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