a greater challenge. Situated in various locations around the globe, three up-and-coming labels are starting to break through
and do just that.
In New York, Aaron Ruff seems to suffer from design ADD. The former carpenter and Parsons-trained furniture designer is behind Digby and Iona, the woodsy and "noble" line of accessories he created in his latest incarnation as a jewelry maker. Having grown up in the
idyllic woodlands of Maine, Ruff says of his line’s prevailing leitmotif that "deer and nature themes are having their fifteen
minutes of fame" and "are so closely tied to my childhood, I wanted to do my own take."
In his Hunter and the Hunted Collection (one of two collections currently making up Digby and Iona), there are gunmetal stag head necklaces and rings, silver rifle earrings, pendants, and silver cufflinks reminiscent of tiny targets from country fair shooting games.
The Artifact Collection boasts hip, kitschy pieces: silver and 14kt gold "kissing couple" pendants; intricately rendered crown
and brass key necklaces; and a weighty series of sterling silver rings with offbeat but skillfully crafted centerpieces; available at
Barneys this fall.
Ruff’s recent collaboration with Sean Shuter (of BBlessing) and Daniel Jackson (of Surface to Air), designing the lacquered ebony fixtures of the just-opened retail outpost/art gallery BBlessing, marked his arrival into
New York’s rather elite crowd of young creatives.
If you’re an "otaku" — a Japanese term for a die-hard anime nerd — say "arigato" (thank you) to Creation A.H.R. The Tokyo-based fashion label has come out with cool-looking accessories to let you express your fanaticism in style.
For s/s ’06, label masterminds Ayanari Hidaka and Rieko Higuchi took cues from the kitschy Technicolor anime culture, resulting
in a visual kind of onomatopoeia. There are 11 color-blocked acrylic brooches, including a robot’s face with a red hat, a yellow
and white wing/gun, a green eyeball, a teal-haired hero, a jagged-edged red and white weapon, and a cocoon-like figure with
whiskers. These pieces, which look like three-dimensional storyboard drawings, are playfully adorned with fuchsia, white,
red, green, blue, and gold Swarovski crystals.
Though the brooches, ranging in price from $178 to $268, are currently only available via the Creation A.H.R. website, their
irresistible super-"kawaii" appeal could soon win them a cult following — especially from the colorific urban trendoids profiled
in our interview below.
Meanwhile, in a log cabin-cum-atelier in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, the artist/designer Christine Brandt prefers
to work with what nature has to offer. This Japan-born global nomad — raised in the US, Scandinavia, France, and Spain — says,
"my work reflects my environment," which probably explains why her jewelry collection looks more like geological confectionaries
than your run-of-the-mill accessories.
Brandt, who doesn’t "follow a [fashion] calendar," anchored her new crop of necklaces with fluidly sculpted, African ebony. But more enthralling are the rough-hewn stalactite-like crystals exploding from the neckwear’s wood bases — in
the Antarctica model, it’s white calcite; in Blueberry, it’s a hypnotizing sapphire cavensite; Fern features avocado-green
pyromorphite; and a menacing igneous tourmaline fires up Devil Nut.
Brandt’s two-year-old company received key industry exposure recently with a Doo Ri collaboration on a group of necklaces for the designer’s a/w ’06-’07 collection. And we forecast greater attention for the
jewelry designer as a wider audience discovers the unique qualities of her pieces that combine a Zen-like formality with nature’s
unpredictable beauty. Christine Brandt jewelry, which starts from $2,500, is available by private order via her website, www.christinejbrandt.com.
1-2 Digby & Iona Jewelry
Creation A.H.R. s/s ’06
Ayanari Hidaka and Rieko Higuchi
6-7 Christine Brandt