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words Melissa Gage
I like to stay positive as much as the next butcher but in the wake of the recent election results, if ever there was a time when we needed our jewellery to double as armour then now is the time.
Jewellery designer, Arielle De Pinto has been riding this wave for a while. She developed a technique straight out of Concordia Fine Arts in 2007 in the back seat of her car, fusing crochet and precious metals to produce strikingly original weaves of gold and silver chain mail that unravel and drop over time.
Part costume, part jewellery, it’s easy to see why her work has gained momentum in both the art and fashion world but more importantly, can us nobodies afford to own a beautiful protective shield against the world’s ills? This ain’t De Beers honey, Arielle’s handmade pieces have more in common with the manifesto of the arts and crafts movement and her work, although artisanal in approach, still remains accessible with a playful sensibility.
We caught up with Arielle on the launch of her new collection aptly titled Armour like Ornaments.
Hi Arielle, I’m obsessed with your BUN CAGE! It’s a beautiful and very useful piece of design, jewellery is typically decorational but what motivates you more when creating, function or design?
Most of my pieces though they can have distinct aesthetic are designed to fluidly compliment any look, they are not meant to inhibit your movement. I love committing to a strong look but I also want to be able participate in any activity on a whim.
Your designs are undone and not in keeping with what we expect from gold and silver. Have you always gone left when everyone else is going right?
I just have my own way, it feels natural, it always has. It is not a conscious rebellion but I have learned that following intuition is a form of peaceful rebellion. The way that my jewellery evolves… the chains can shift and drip, after a week of wearing it there are always noticeable shifts…is unconventional for something that exists commercially. It is something I have committed a lot of time explaining and I think have been successful at establishing trust with a longstanding clientele.
Your pieces get picked up by men and women’s magazines, Jewellery houses are traditionally quite err, traditional in order to be commercial. Do you design with gender fluidity in mind or is that an unconscious thing that just happens?
I just think of my work as an evolving embrace of subtle beauty, it’s finding beauty within the limitations of quite restrictive technique, it never had anything to do with gender, that just happens to be one of the organizational structure of the fashion calendar that I use to get my work out there.
Does Jewellery have a place on the catwalks in it’s own right or is it natural for it to live in small boutiques, department stores and on the pages of fashion magazines?
Doing runway with only jewellery can be challenging because it’s typically so small. For me to do runway on my own is a big investment but I do love collaboration with other designers or stylists, collaboration challenges keep things fresh for me.
What’s on your mood board at the moment for your next collection?
It’s all textile techniques!
You studied for a fine art degree, did you find it hard to channel your creativity into one medium and what made you stop on jewellery?
My choice to go into jewellery was circumstantial to having developed this technique. I had never planned on it. I worked for a long time on establishing this maille technique by crocheting chain and once it came together the result was so beautiful and so different than anything else I had ever seen that I was inspired to take it to the next level.
What are your thoughts on celebrity endorsement where more and more designers are using social media stars to reach a wider audience?
It is what it is. My work can be so discreet that it can be tough to capture candidly but it’s great that you can build something out of nothing for next to nothing.
Where is your studio and is it a creative place?
I have had studios in New York and in Montreal. They are both creative places. Montreal is a place where you can have an exquisite quality of life. It can feel sleepy at times but there are so many creative people there who can afford to exist as an alternative lifestyle, there is a lot of energy. At this moment globally we’re in such a tough point in the economy, I have watched the rent rise dramatically over the years and watched so many of my friends deal with that reality. Montreal can still be very bohemian but those days of $150 rent are long over.
Ain’t that the truth. Where are your favourite hang outs?
In new york I love being at the beach — in Montreal I can go out anywhere and be at home. I loved to be at my friends restaurant Bethlehem XXX but it recently closed to the public. In the summer in Montreal I would live at Jarry Pool.
For all the recent grads looking for some sage advice, what was your first step in creating the brand and getting people to listen to you?
I started my label because I felt like I had something distinct. Never underestimate how much of this is business, and that you must go much beyond what people consider a normal job. If I could start again I would probably have taken a business course before it would have saved me a lot of time. Throughout the years I have had different types of support in different areas but I have had to step into all areas. In my experience I have needed a base knowledge of nearly all aspects, that is what has helped me understand if things are running efficiently.
What’s been your proudest moment as a creative and what came after?
I did my own runway show one time, nothing has really topped that. It was very expensive and it took every scrap of energy but it was so purely creative, I love the pressure and time constraints. At the time I had a pretty big team that helped me make it happen, our structure has changed a lot since then but I would be quite happy existing like that all the time and am trying to shift my life now again to have time to do that…
For more on Arielle de Pinto see www.arielledepinto.com.