Designer Spotlight: Merle O’Grady

Merle O’GradyMerle O’Grady knows a thing or two about making a fashion statement. Known for creating striking jewelry collections, her statement pieces seamlessly transform the simplest of outfits into high-fashion looks. It’s no wonder that style icons such as Florence Welch, Rihanna and Beyonce are loyal fans.

Born in Ireland and based in London, O’Grady fuses mechanical shapes with Swarovski crystals, a combination that has proven successful since her s/s ’10 debut. Originally a trained fashion designer, O’Grady’s naturally creative eye made her migration into accessories an organic transition. She even counts an architectural salvage yard as the catalyst for launching her own jewelry range.

Initially, O’Grady created designs heavily based in Perspex, geometric shapes with honeycomb perforations in black, white and transparent. Since then, she’s evolved into working more with metals and Swarovski crystal, as seen in her more recent s/s ’12 collection, titled “Mecanismo.” Influenced by Mesoamerican designs, particularly Aztecan “Taxco” styles, O’Grady’s Talon collection fastens claw shaped pendants onto wide cuffs and dense chains. Each pendant is hollowed out and replenished with rounded turquoise or pale pink crystal. Other collections feature more bold pieces, such as her Templo necklace made in light oxidized brass. A rather grand crescent moon pendant, fastened with triangular studded brass and blue Swarovski crystals, hangs like a showpiece off a woven brass chain.

Merle O’GradyO’Grady’s collections are also recognized for incorporating industrial elements into designs, a recurring theme throughout each season—for s/s ’12, it’s “Machine Age” Deco. But O’Grady is quick to add: “I wanted to follow on with the tribal style too.” Inspired by streamline buildings and cars, the pieces beautifully integrate raw components with luxury fixtures. The Shell Stud range blends mechanical-like washers into Mexican necklaces, while the Streamline collection has a more architectural feel. Favorites include the Delahaye range with silver and gold brass hinges topped with princess cut jewels.

O’Grady’s dedication and unique style have led to praise and growing popularity within the UK. This month, the Merle O’Grady collections will also be available in the US at Urban Outfitters.

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