Monday, January 21, 2013

George & Laurel: The New Jewels

With every season there inevitably emerges new designers, hoping to pave through the established names and make room for their vision. While many of the aspiring creatives fall between the cracks along the way, Blair George and Danielle Killam have launched a jewelry line that’s here to stay. Having worked in LA’s fashion district together at five different jobs, running a fashion blog together (The Smoking Nuns), the two have now collaborated on a refreshingly light and contemporary jewelry collection, George and Laurel, that is wearable, beautiful and affordable.  
Blair currently works as jewelry designer for brands such as Nasty Gal, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Nordstroms, etc while Dani is the Collections Managers at the FIDM museum and galleries. Their first collection, whimsically themed “Ladies who Lunch” features spring pastels offset by a rich palette of burgandies and browns and further juxtaposed with a heavy and powerful faceted stone and chain. Stic-of-the-Week interviewed the designers on their first collection, which launched on January 1st and can be purchased on their site. Read about their inspirations, collaboration, music choices and more!

Stic-of-the-Week: Given both of your already established careers in the LA fashion world, what inspired you to create your own jewelry line?
- Why jewelry as opposed to apparel or a different accessory?

Blair: I have worked in the jewelry industry for several years so we had extensive knowledge and resources available to us.  Plus I never leave home without some jewelry, so why not design some of our own sparkly things.
Dani: Blair and I have worked at more than 5 different jobs with each other, and by the fifth we knew that we wanted to go into business together. Though we both have careers in the LA fashion world we weren’t going to stop until we established our own entity. 
SOTW: Where did the inspiration for the "Ladies who Lunch" come from? The concept is lovely and the colors are so appetizing.
D: The concept came from a few different sources. One being Bottega Louis, a favorite restaurant of ours in Downtown LA. It has a patisserie on one side of the restaurant with rows and rows of beautiful macaroons that inspired some of the colors. The other source of inspiration was playing with idea of the tradition conservative role of a “Lady who Lunches” and making her more robust and glamorous. 
SOTW: What is the thought process when designing a jewelry collection.
B: We usually start with a larger concept and begin to focus in on the details we really love.  We love highly curated collection so we usually cap our collections at around 10 pieces making the collection highly consistent and tight.  The collection always takes different forms during the production process due to the availability of materials and resources.  It helps to roll with the punches and think on your feet.
D: We’re lucky enough to meet for lunch almost everyday, so our approach to designing is pretty much free form. For the most part, it’s Blair and I casually talking about what we’d like to be wearing and then moving forward, step-by-step, until we’ve sketched out the 10 or so pieces for the collection. Then it’s balls to the wall. Once we’ve set the tone for the collection we move fast into SPECing, sourcing, and meeting with factory. 

SOTW: How does this collection fit in with other pre-spring trends that you've been seeing?
B: We really don't try to subscribe to trends when envisioning a new collection.  However, this collection conveniently echoed many trends that are hitting this year - the spike trend (with our faceted pear stones) and the pastel trend (with our mint and pink hues). We offset these popular trends by contrasting them with "off colors" like nude, whiskey, and charcoal.  We always aim to be unexpected and add a quirky element to the collection.

How does LA, the west coast, inspire your collection? If at all.
B: I think LA inspires us by its diversity and its underutilized resources. There is so much inspiration and creativity that is not showcased, and we want to highlight the city's attributes and help to develop them.
D: We’re both from the LA area and went to school in northern California together, so the west coast is going to come through in our designs no matter what. I think it comes through in our irreverence and capability to go highbrow or low brow. Blair’s right, there is so much diversity for us to draw from. It’s endless. 

SOTW: Being a designing team, how do your individual tastes and styles differ and how does that reflect in the collection? 
B: We have a very similar design aesthetic most of the time since we have spent the last 10 years developing a shared vision of fashion and jewelry.  When we do differ, I trust Dani's taste just as much as I trust my own so it’s easy to put faith into her design decisions.  I know that she is reaching an audience that I wouldn't have just on my own.
D: I think when we do differ it leads to more insightful designs. We’re then forced into a discussion that we may not have had before. Any process that doesn’t push you outside of your comfort zone is not going to result in great work. 
SOTW: Do you each have a favorite piece from the collection? Please elaborate on why?
the norbert ear cuff
B: My favorite piece would have to be The Norbert, our ear cuff.  It came to fruition as an accident after we saw the final sample for our necklace, The Mortimer.  We loved the silhouette so much, we decided to use it again in an ear cuff.  It's understated yet bold and is probably one of our most editorial pieces.
D: I love the Mortimer necklace. I wear it everyday. I sleep with it on. I think I’m drawn to it because it’s shifted me away from the ornate bib silhouette and into a more delicate approach to accessorizing. 
the mortimer necklace
SOTW: Who is your ideal clientele for your jewelry? What kind of girl is she? 
B: She is a confident woman whose fashion sense only echoes her inner creativity and strength.   I want to be inspired just as much by the woman that wears our jewelry as she is by our designs.
D: No matter what our girl loves to laugh. Humor and confidence are the perfect mixture. 
SOTW: Being a site that focuses primarily on music and style, do you have musical interests that influence the collection at all? What are some of your favorite jams right now? 
B: I am a hip hop girl at heart.  Currently my favorites are Kendrick Lamar and Drake.  Their music is hauntingly melodious while maintaining a beat that always pumps me up. 
D: I tend to listen to the “oldies.” Dean Martin makes me really happy and Otis Redding is one of my all-time favorites. That feel of the Rat Pack definitely coincides with our “Ladies Who Lunch” collection. Glamour and indulgence, and always chic. 
SOTW: What are your goals for the collection, what will come next?
B: The next collection is already underway.  Without giving too much away, just know that it will involve fur and leather.  You can never have too much fur.
D: I think that we both get the most satisfaction in pleasing our customers. We don’t have to sell on a mass scale. We just want to sell to those who find joy in our product. 

Purchase jewelry here.

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