By Alexandra Taylor
As a young designer I am always pleased to view the creative work of a successful and aspiring fashion industry entrepreneur. Last year, Venessa Arizaga, a 2003 Parsons graduate launched an eccentric yet modern jewelry collection inspired by her passion for travel. After several years of working for fashion industry powerhouses such as Carolina Herrera and Zac Posen, Venessa made the decision to take her skills and apply them to her own creative collection of bold statement jewelry. The whimsical pieces combine natural stones, playful charms, luxe chain, and bright silk threading for a striking, one of a kind collection.
Venessa took some time to speak about her collection, design process, and her zeal for all things travel.
BN: Where do you draw inspiration for your collection?
VA: I’m a romantic at heart! I can find inspiration and beauty in just about anything, anywhere. The most wonderful way for me to gather inspiration is always on a trip to an exotic location, but when there’s little time and a strict budget, a few days at the library can create a world of new ideas. I love flipping through periodicals dating back to the 1800’s through now – it’s truly wild to see the evolution of culture and style.
Once I collect a stack of varied information to pore over, I then focus on colors. I find that above all, the perfect way to filter thoughts and push new ideas is with colors and swatches of materials pinned to charts with notes and tear sheets. At times, creativity and ingenuity can be right in front of you.
BN: How has working in the fashion industry helped to mold your line and design aesthetic?
VA: The fashion industry has a glamorous faà§ade, but the parts to the machine are constantly moving. It’s a cyclical industry that never stops and is built on the foundation of new ideas and striving to achieve the “new look” every season. The process of designing a garment has so many steps from paper to runway. Once the design leaves the drawing board and is in the atelier hands, the designer is constantly addressing the design to ensure that it captures the inspiration and mood that the designer envisioned. It’s a sensitive, arduous process that takes patience, which is a great model to follow. I’m lucky to have had that experience.
BN: How has traveling influenced your work?
VA: This company was started on trip! If I didn’t have the ability to go on trips to get away, this company would have never existed – it was a happy accident that changed my life. While on vacation most people would relax, get massages and go swimming, but I’m the opposite. I scour beaches and towns looking for new shapes and textiles for inspiration and references. Instead of packing a suitcase full of resort clothing, I carry 50 pounds of chain, threads and charms to feed my creativity. The metal detectors definitely go off when I’m at the airport, but on the way home I’m satisfied and amazed by my creations.
BN: What is your design process like?
VA: My process is long and arduous. It’s a 3-6 month development cycle with a stack of sketches full of ideas.
I always start with a lot of research in the library. I’ll spend entire week gathering information, references on mood and different color palettes. Then, I begin incorporating textures and developing new sewing techniques that are an evolution of pieces from my last collection. I also love a story line, so I try to immerse myself in inspiration and picture the “IT GIRL” that I want to capture.
BN: Any future plans or upcoming projects for your label?
VA: I’m designing SPRING 2012 right now, and it’s the hardest collection I’ve ever done. I’m challenging myself to use materials that I’ve never used before. I’m definitely designing outside my comfort zone, but I know that it will be great.
From intricately crafted stone and silk thread bracelets to bold statement necklaces adorned with hand painted charms, the Venessa Arizaga jewelry line is filled with unique, must-have keepsakes. The collections can be found at Henri Bendel, A. Turren at 124 Ludlow ST., ATRIUM at 644 BROADWAY, and several other boutiques throughout the US and Europe. The eclectic collection can also be bought at http://venessaarizaga.com/.