Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The it girl of Jewelry Design

Solange Azagury Patridge

With no formal training and an obsession for creating quirky yet luxurious jewelry, Solange Azagury-Partridge, a self taught jewelry designer from London, has been touted as, “Probably the best jewelry designer of this generation” (Kate Reardon, The Sunday Times). She has revolutionized the industry with her innate ability to create stunning, seductive and sexy pieces, taking inspiration from everything from kinetics to candy. She is a maverick designer, creating history through her brilliant ideas and use of opulent materials.

Since opening shop in 1995 in the exclusive Notting Hill area of London, Solange Azagury-Partridge has gone from being a small trendy boutique designer to one of the world’s most coveted jewelers. Her pieces have been praised in numerous prominent fashion magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, solidifying her place as one of the most fashion forward and original designers of our time.

Solange’s first experience working with jewelry was as an assistant designer at Butler & Wilson, a costume jewelry shop in London. What was first a way to earn extra money after leaving university became the beginning of Solange’s lifelong obsession with jewelry. She famously created her first piece (her own engagement ring) from an uncut diamond and plain gold band, and after being inundated with compliments from everyone who saw it, she decided to take her talent to the next level. Her namesake boutique (which resembles a huge walk-in jewelry box) opened in 1995 and thus began her remarkable career in design.

When her stunning debut collections created a frenzy, her reputation as the new “It” designer was born and attracted the attention of top names in the industry. It wasn’t long before Solange was hired as Creative Director of Boucheron, the venerable French jewelry designer with over 150 years experience behind the brand. She has been credited with bringing Boucheron back into the style stakes and reinventing the brand by modernizing their image and appealing to a younger, more fashion forward market. Azagury-Partridge used the themes of snakes and bondage to create stunning pieces filled with desire and temptation- seductive emerald and sapphire snake rings set in black gold, delicately flowing chain rings and antique inspired chunky diamond rings. Using monochromatic color ways set in black gold, Solange revived a traditional brand by referencing an antique look, but through brilliant design opened up the brand to untapped markets. These collections were so revered that some pieces now appear on display in the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs Du Louvre in Paris.

After three years working with Boucheron and now focusing on her own line, Solange has continually impressed the fashion world with her innate ability to create luxurious high end jewelry that also channels the coyness of costume pieces. Her ability to use unpredictable combinations of stones and metals translate well for her fashion conscious market and her client base boasts an impressive list of celebrities, musicians, artists and rock stars. Madonna, Marc Jacobs, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore are a few of the many celebrities who flaunt her creations. It is her openness to inspiration that results in her quirky pieces- crop circle diamond earrings, crocodile skull jeweled rings, an anatomically correct heart of gold pendant and a pair of gold chain earrings fashioned to look like crinolines. It is easy to see why her funky ideas paired with luxurious metals and gems are irresistible to the traditional and daring alike.

Solange has continued to enjoy phenomenal success and has expanded her business into furniture and perfume design, never losing touch with her roots as a jewelry designer. Debuting in the US market for the first time, “Unwearable Jewels”, (featured at Sebastian + Barquet) revealed a gemstone inlaid coffee table, diamond encrusted chandelier and jeweled wall plaques. Fetching up to $80 000 USD a piece, these are exclusive fantasy inspired items that are for serious Solange aficionados. She has also enjoyed uncharted success with her two perfumes. The premier scent Stoned was a sweet candy scented fragrance that included diamond dust as an ingredient, and her latest, Cosmic, plays homage to her love of gemstones by containing real stardust (finely ground meteorites).

Catering to her huge fan base, she is currently working on her line to include more accessible and affordable pieces so everyone can own a piece of Solange Azagury-Partridge jewelry. Whether her brand can ever be considered mass market is questionable, but there is no doubt that she is one of the most inspiring jewelry designers of this generation, and her work will continue to be revered for generations to come.

- by Stacey Richardson for

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