Four of New York’s most chic fashion designers give us a glimpse into their personal jewelry boxes and share the stories behind their prized possessions
Admit it. We all play favorites when it comes to the treasures in our jewelry box. There’s always one piece that we can’t stop wearing or that acts as our proverbial Proustian madeleine. Here, we talk to four fashion designers who reveal their own personal preferences.
After stints working for Richard Tyler and Christian Francis Roth, Texas native Lela Rose struck out on her own in 1998 and has since carved out a niche in pretty polish. In addition to her own ready-to-wear line—and a freestanding store in her hometown of Dallas—this New York City–based designer also has a foothold in the bridal market with separate wedding and bridesmaid collections.
“The technique involved has long been employed in my clothing and jewelry,” says Rose. “I often like to wrap a design element in rope or tulle to give extra dimension.”
What She Chose: a rock crystal pendant necklace with silk cording, by Tina Chow
Backstory: “My mother [art patron Deedie Rose] is a collector of artisan jewelry and she gave me this piece a long time ago, a little prior to when Tina Chow passed away.”
What She Loves About It: “Tina loved the artistry of weaving—that’s one of my favorite aspects of this piece. My mother and I have always loved anything handcrafted, and I’ve always liked jewelry that celebrates the hand instead of gems. I used to wear this piece a lot, especially as a more formal piece.”
How She Wears It: “I still reserve this necklace for more special occasions. I wear a lot of ivory and love the look of soft black cord and rock crystal against the pale color.”
Simple and spare—that’s newcomer Ji Oh’s aesthetic calling card. Her debut collection, which landed the front page of Women’s Wear Daily in February, put the focus on clean cuts and a minimalist vibe. Which, of course, helps explain why this Korean alum of Parsons and London’s Central Saint Martins opted for a decidedly less-is-more jewelry piece.
What She Chose: Eddie Borgo’s two-cone cuff bracelet in silver
“Aesthetically and philosophically, it’s inspired my collection,” says Oh, referring to the cuff’s minimalism.
Backstory: “I’ve been following Eddie’s work, and I respect his design philosophy and theory a lot. His style aligns with my personal style. The moment I saw the cuff—I bought it at If in SoHo four years ago—I knew I had to have it.”
What She Loves About It: “It accentuates the feminine silhouette of the wrist with a masculine touch. The design is quiet and understated—like a black dress that goes with anything.”
How She Wears It: “I wear this all the time. It becomes such a part of me that I do not realize whether I’m wearing it or not. That’s very important to me; I don’t like showy pieces. It’s my silent piece.”
Arizona-born Whitney Pozgay debuted WHIT in 2010—and she’s already been nominated for the famed International Woolmark Prize twice. Her label is a mix of color, print, and flirty chic, with a tinge of tomboy appeal, which aptly reflects her CV; Pozgay was the lead womenswear designer at Steven Alan and, before that, worked for her aunt Kate Spade.
What She Chose: “Vintage earrings from the ’60s—large chandeliers with big chunky crystals. I am not sure if this is just from aging, but the varied shades of grays and slightly dirty yellows give the earrings depth.”
“The construction is really interesting,” Pozgay says of the earrings. “If we ever launch jewelry, I will definitely look at the stacked setting for inspiration.”
Backstory: “I found them at a flea market on the Upper West Side with my sister-in-law. I had been eyeing them for a few weekends, and while they were more than I usually like to pay for costume jewelry, they are really special and oddly versatile.”
What She Loves About Them: “They are very formal and loud but look best with a casual outfit. Also, they’re designed in layers so they almost read like a bunch of rhinestone grapes.”
How She Wears Them: “They can add some glamour to a printed dress or a little edge to a casual outfit. The first time, I wore them with a denim shirt to a friend’s fashion show. If I’m feeling really adventurous, I’ll wear just one with a more simple stone earring on the other side.”
Gabriela Perezutti Hearst
Gabriela Perezutti Hearst may not look the part, but she’s a full-blown rancher who grew up on her family’s centuries-old estancia in Uruguay—which she now runs. That upbringing is reflected in her 10-year-old line Candela, “light” in Spanish, which marries easy femininity with haute bohemia. In fact, one of the early inspirations behind the collection is a ’70s photo of a woman on a horse: her mom.
What She Chose: a gold David Webb necklace and a Victorian-era diamond, enamel, and gold elephant-shape bracelet
Hair by Kailie Joe; Makeup by Misaki Ishihara for TheStylisted
“Both have the elements I am fascinated by and always gravitate toward,” says Hearst. “They are made with incredible materials and are well-crafted but have a rustic, timeless style.”
Backstory: “David Webb loaned me the necklace for an event. My husband loved it so much he got it for me for Mother’s Day. The Indian bracelet belonged to my mother-in-law.”
What She Loves About Them: “The necklace reminds me of the three people I love most in the world: my husband and daughters. And the bracelet is a family heirloom.”
How She Wears Them: “I really like to dress down important pieces by wearing them in a casual, unassuming way. The first time I wore the necklace, I was wearing a simple navy blue top and pants for a dinner we were hosting for [Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief] Glenda Bailey. She loved it, and she is a woman who knows style.”