JCK Asks…Wendy Brandes

On 18th-century queens and 21st-century stars

We’ve all felt the urge to tell someone to STFU. But Wendy Brandes put it on a chain. And that busty pinup girl you see hanging off the tire of your typical tractor-trailer? Presenting Brandes’ Mud Flap Jill Necklace with ruby nipples. Superstylish singer Rihanna was recently spotted wearing Jill; read more about it at wendybrandes.com/blog in a post titled “Let’s All Stare at Rihanna’s Chest.” We’re a little addicted to Brandes’ blog—Emmy fashion one minute, baked potato pics the next…you never know what you’ll find. That’s typical of her jewelry too: a stake-in-the-heart Vampire ring, a SmacEnroe tennis necklace, citrine-centered sunflower earrings—you never know what she’ll come up with.

Brandes’ Jill necklace in 18k gold

Age: 44

Number of years in the biz: 7

Family and pets: I live with my husband, a rescued Pekingese, a rescued Tibetan spaniel, and an exotic ­shorthair cat. My four stepchildren are grown, but we see them and my two step-grandchildren whenever we can.

Describe your personal style: Contrarian feminine glamour

Gigi and Henry the dogs

First piece you ever designed: My own engagement ring

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: Always the newest piece. Right now, that is my Marie Antoinette earring design.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Attributed to Voltaire and frequently cited by my husband. I apply it to everything except jewelry. That still has to be perfect.

FitzRoy the cat

Worst piece of advice: Anything that starts with “You should just…” from someone with no experience with manufacturing

First job ever: Financial wire-service journalist at Dow Jones

How did you get started designing jewelry? I wanted an engagement ring that didn’t look like any other.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Social media guru at a news organization

Brandes’ Marie Antoinette earrings

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: All my own designs: engagement ring, Xenobia turquoise ring, Gravity thumb ring, Borgia Poison ring, Siobhan perma-stacked ring, wedding band, Memento Mori skull pinky ring. It’s a casual day—no necklace or earrings.

Five items on your desk right now: MacBook Air; peach Diet Snapple; the book Radical Rags: Fashions of the Sixties; sterling-silver STFU necklace; FitzRoy the cat

Brandes’ Memento Mori Skull Ring

Five songs on your playlist: “Deepest Shame,” Plan B; “Sabotage,” the Beastie Boys; “Sharp-Dressed Man,” ZZ Top; “Cherry Wine,” Nas and Amy Winehouse; “Blank Generation,” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Exercise regimen: Cardio seven days a week, weights two or three days. I’m not a yoga person; I like boxing.

What did you have for breakfast? A hard-boiled egg, strawberries, and kiwi. This is a healthy aberration; there are plenty of days I could say “candy.”

Guilty pleasure: Candy for breakfast

Drink (daytime/evening): Diet Snapple/champagne

First website you check every day (not your own!): Kitco.com for the price of gold

How do you unwind? Drinking white wine with my clothing-designer friend Stacy Lomman at our favorite local spot

Superstitious? About certain things. I won’t talk about new jewelry designs till they’re finished.

Brandes’ Paul’s Pearl Cufflinks

Book you’re reading: The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns (it inspired the TV series The Wire)

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: I started Alison Weir’s biography of Mary Boleyn; I have to resume it one of these days.

Preferred news source: I like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, but I avoid the Journal’s editorial page. I also get a lot of breaking news from Twitter.

Main means of transportation: Yellow cab

Favorite movie: I’m compelled to watch Goodfellas any time I come across it on TV.

Who would play you in your life story? People say I look like Marisa Tomei, so she should get the job. ­However, if a young Sophia Loren becomes available, my ego would be forever grateful.

Personal motto: “Never Is the Next New Thing™”

More JCK Asks on JCKonline.com:
+ JCK Asks…Andrea Fohrman
+ JCK Asks…Katey Brunini
+ JCK Asks…Melissa Joy Manning

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