The reaction to my “romantic, gothic, alien” jewelry that I hear (and enjoy) the most is, “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.” Other jewelers gasp when they see that my golden egg locket opens to reveal a tiny, diamond-eyed silver chicken … which, in turn, opens to reveal three gold eggs.
I even sold my 18K-gold acorn locket (with a squirrel inside) to another jeweler! You know when I would buy something from another jeweler? Never. That purchase was a huge, huge compliment. Shit, a jeweler can make herself anything she wants. She doesn’t have to buy my work unless she thinks there’s no way she’d be able to match it.
I also took it as a compliment when supermodel Christy Turlington called my Empress Wu dragon ring — which features a revolving, lapis lazuli globe clenched in the dragon’s jaws — “a bit scary but really a cool piece of art.” Christy saw the ring when Conde Nast’s Vogue Paris featured it on its website and Facebook page.
Isn’t it amazing that earrings inspired by a 12-century royal lady can look totally modern?
If you appreciate weaponry like swords, you’ll definitely get a kick out of my vampire heart ring with removable stake. Here’s how it looks when you first see it …
… and here’s what you can do with it. Crazy, right?
Just last week, editor Jennifer Heebner of jewelry-industry magazine JCK exclaimed over the unusual detail in my new Frog and Prince Maneater ring. Jennifer sees a lot of jewelry — more than I do! — so she knows what she’s talking about.
Even my less-expensive diffusion line, WENDYB by Wendy Brandes, packs a punch. As longtime readers and customers know, I introduced my swear rings in 2008.
I showed the design to lots of retailers, but they all thought the rings were too wild for their customers. The Bloomingdale’s buyer wanted a set for herself but was too scared to show the design to her boss. That response lasted till last year, when Topshop ripped off my design. While I got Topshop to pull the design after spending $3,000 on a lawyer, the cat was out of the bag. Yesterday, someone told me she saw a similar look in Claire’s, the mass-market, low-priced accessory store for girls.
At least I was able to channel my aggravation from that experience into my awesome IDGAF necklace.
When sassy blogger Susan bought the necklace for herself, it really upset some of her readers. I think we were accused of contributing to the coarsening of civilization. I was like, “Thanks!”
Now, I normally keep my mouth shut about the ridiculous shit I hear from retailers on a regular basis, because, you know, self-preservation and diplomacy and all that. I did vent after the Topshop fiasco because what made that so very painful was how stores rejected the concept right up until the second they decided to sell it without me. But I have to make an exception by asking you readers if — having reviewed a few of my designs — you agree with the latest retailer feedback: “At this time, my feeling is the collection is too main stream [sic] for us.” My personal reaction was …
Let me tell you, this is typical of the fashion (and related) industries. The same people will tell you your work is too outré one moment and banal the next. If you don’t have tolerance for nonsensical rejection, this isn’t the business for you. But I still resent being called “main stream” by a store that sells things like this.
No offense intended to the designer or purchasers of the necklace above: What I like about jewelry is that there’s something for everyone. I say that whenever people tell me that my designs are too wild for them. I go so far as encouraging folks to get themselves ultra-basic four-prong diamond studs at Walmart. Sure, I think those are as boring as hell, but I’m not stopping you from following your bliss. You can wear those and I’ll wear my funny punctuation stud earrings. We can both have what we want.
Clearly, I’m happy that safe jewelry options exist for the people that enjoy them, but don’t be calling ME “main stream” when YOUR STORE is carrying script necklaces saying “love” and “faith” and “breathe.” On what planet are those words different, exciting or controversial? Claire’s is all over that concept, for fuck’s sake. Meanwhile, I invented my own font.
Anyway, I’m thinking of sending the jewelry buyer in question one of my GTFOH necklaces as a token of my appreciation for her taking the time to evaluate my line so thoroughly. Maybe she can ask her daughter or niece to explain the meaning to her.
While I’m talking about meaning, I might as well introduce the newest addition to the word/letter jewelry in my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes line.
Trill means true and real. Expect to see it in jewelry stores everywhere in another year or two, when the bitches catch up to me again.