Interview with jewelry designer Natha Perkins

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I have had the great pleasure of interviewing jewelry designer, Natha Perkins.   Natha’s line, Lucious Metals, features her unique, handmade jewelry, including her popular Kelly Bella line.

Natha began making her own jewerly to fulfill her wish of  finding specific jewelry pieces in stores.  Now, Natha’s own creations start off as metal sheets and wires and are hand crafted to create a new, unique piece that has meaning behind it.

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What made you decide you wanted to be a jewelry designer?

I love working with metal- it’s so hard yet so forgiving and you can almost always come up with cool solutions if you mess up your first idea up!  Jewelry creation is a natural progression with metal.  Making jewelry is lovely because you get to make beautiful objects that are destined to become treasures.

What is your background?

I didn’t discover my passion for metal and jewelry design until my mid 20’s.  When I did though, I went to art school in Denver to study it.  I am always taking workshops on new processes and I teach workshops as well.

If you could explain, as much as you’d like, your process for making your jewelry?

Almost all of the metal work in my pieces start it’s life as metal sheets and wires.  I use lots of cool processes to transform it into adornment including a big torch, various chemicals, blades, hammers and compression.  It makes me feel like such a bad ass- I get to play with fire and acid everyday!

What are your biggest inspirations for your creations?

Currently, my biggest inspiration comes from words.  We have so many luscious words in our language- I love how one word even, can conjure such vivid imagery and make you feel a certain way just by reading it.  The Hearts and Wings and Flames line has good examples of how I like to use words.

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In what was do you feel that your jewelry is unique and stands out?
My jewelry has many unexpected elements and  little secrets.  Like I said earlier, I like to incorporate words in almost all of my pieces.  For example, every piece in the Jewel Collection has a hidden word ( like “joy” or “dream”) or a hidden design (like vines or stars) on it’s backside.  I love little unexpected details and elements that make the piece beautiful and intriguing from all sides.
I was reading one testimonial, and someone wrote that your jewelry is “unusually based on celebrating life, instead of angst”, and I definitely agree that it shows through from the colors to the shapes.  I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on that and how you feel about expressing that concept in your work?

I believe that we have the power to bring what we want and need into our lives.  I like to try and assist in that process, so for instance lets say you want
to be reminded about unconditional love, well if it says those words right there on your jewelry that you wear every day, how can you help but be reminded of it?  Jewelry really holds a lot of power and has a lot of significance in our culture and history- I love being a part of that.
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As an independent designer, what do you find are the pros and cons?

I like life as an independent designer because I can do things the way I want to do them!  There are a lot of hats to wear though so you have to make sure that you are spending as much time on things like marketing and sales as you are on designing and creation.

What advice and tips do you have for anyone looking to buy jewelry?

Make sure it feels good on- no sharp edges or stones.  Always buy yourself a piece of jewelry when you’re on vacation or for something momentous.  That way your jewelry box can be a little box of memories and pretty objects!

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What is your overall personal style?

Despite the fact that my nails are a mess and I wear a dirty apron and respirator to work in, I am a girly girl.  I love clothes and shoes.  I like to wear unexpected combinations together like a slip as a dress over jeans or striped socks sticking out of tall boots.  It makes your day more fun!

Please let everyone know all of the places they can buy your jewelry?

Luscious Metals by Natha Perkins is available for purchase in my online store at www.NathaPerkins.com
also at Etsy and Smashing Darling.  For a list of brick and Mortar stores, follow this link.

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Viva Vintage: From Rice and Beans Vintage

So I am an admitted novice when it comes to vintage shopping, especially when there are many women that I know can find some great gems.    So, I always feel a bit under qualified when it comes to giving advice and speaking about vintage  clothing and shopping.    This is why I’m happy that Sarah, of Rice and Beans Vintage, has agreed to be a guest blogger and has written a wonderful guest post with some great tips about vintage and shopping.    Check out Sarah’s wonderful words of wisdom on below and also check out some of the items available from her shop:

I love vintage clothing, not because it is trendy, but because it has history, depth, and tells a story.  I’m not particularly partial to any one era or dressing head to toe in vintage but am drawn more to mixing eras and coming up with a completely fresh and interesting look.  The fantastic thing about vintage is that it allows you to have a look all your own.  While not every piece is “one of a kind” you can be confident that your cubical neighbor or best friend won’t be wearing the same thing as you when you purchase vintage and there is a pretty good chance they will want to know where you bought it!

Are you scared of wearing vintage, are you confused about how to start?  I completely understand!  Some of the pieces are not familiar, the cuts, fabric, prints.  I say start slow, don’t go for a full on vintage look unless you are completely confident that you know what look you are going for and have the confidence to pull it off!  Instead why not start by adding one piece of vintage at a time, like a fierce pair of vintage 40’s platform shoes or a vintage Chanel handbag. This is also a chic, easy, and affordable way to update your current wardrobe.
Remember many of today’s designers look to vintage for inspiration so if you love a current runway look or a spread from your favorite magazine, shop vintage to find similar pieces at a fraction of the cost!  Take that current look you love and make it your own, isn’t that what fashion is all about?

Sarah Korsiak Cellier owns www.RiceAndBeansVintage.com where she stocks the proverbial shelves with handpicked vintage & modern designer clothing, shoes, & accessories.  You’ll find vintage pieces from the 1920’s-1980’s and Vintage & current designer pieces from Chanel, Gucci, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Missoni, and many more.


YSLVintage 80’s YSL military coat

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Vintage 70’s YSL Moroccan collection suit.

Vintage Fry Boots

Vintage Frye leather Harness Boots

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Vintage 60’s Christian Dior black leather handbag


Flat Out

One of my few self-authorized purchases over the past couple of weeks that I’ve been looking to capitalize on has been a nice, comfortable, fairly inexpensive pair of flats. My mother and friends relentlessly clowned my Payless flats and said they looked like house slippers, so I decided another pair might be in order.    I’ve never really felt that flats should cost over $150 and even that would be a bit steep.   I even bought a pair of Tory Burch flats because I thought that they would be the everyday shoes and I wouldn’t need a pair of flats for a long time.  Wrong.  The cute golden T/T medallion fell off after two weeks and I had to go to Nordstrom to get them replaced (for free!).  And after another 2 months, the bottom of the shoe has started to display some serious signs of wear and tear, including a torn sole.   And these are $195 shoes, folks.  No sweet deal there.   On the lower end, I bought a pair of Nine West flats over the weekend for under $60, but those flats were hard and my feet were starting to look like some serious ugly was about to happen.

So, ever since I’ve seen Susie Bubble’s post about this shoe company, Marais USA, I’ve been quite intrigued what they will have to offer.  Most of the shoes are flat or have an extremely low heel (1 and 1/4 inches) and the prices range from $49-$69.   In the “About Us” section of the website, it explains that the creators, Catherine Chen and Haley Boyd, just wanted to create “simple, versatile and essential styles that don’t break the bank”.  Amen to that.  They’re not yet available from the online shop, but I do think I’m going to take the plunge and buy a pair.  Normally, I hate buying shoes online, but I think this might be worth the gamble.  Here are two pairs of shoes I’m contemplating (but in black):

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seeOnGirl-mercer-bigPics from Maraisusa.com

The first pair aren’t flats, and have a baby wedge, but that’s fine.  And I quite like the second pair since they have a round toe.  Either way, once they become available to order online, I’m definitely going to get a pair and if this company can win me over.

Exploring Ayurvedic Hair Care

I haven’t done a hair post in awhile, so I figured I was due.  I’ve dabbled in ayurvedic hair care in the past, but I hadn’t really used it consistently enough to see any real results.  I’d wash with shikakai shampoo once and then I’d go back to using my regular old shampoo.   Lately, I’ve been trying to produce healthier hair and I’ve been paying attention to the ingredients in everything I use.   What I’ve found is that while many commercial products may have 1 or 2 ingredients that benefit the hair, the rest of the ingredients add nothing beneficial  and many times, you end up with hair feeling bogged down by product.   So I’ve gone back into exploring ayurvedic hair care and I’ve found that many of the ingredients listed are actually beneficial and have a purpose for being added in.

My main beef has always been finding a nice oil to apply to my hair and scalp.   My hair would either feel too greasy, limp and lifeless or as if I hadn’t used anything at all.  Also, many of the oils contained silicone (a no-no for me) and that made it even harder in my search for a light oil.   Now, I’ve started using two well-known ayurvedic products: Dabur Amla oil and Vatika oil.

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This is the box for the Dabur Amla oil.  I got a 500ml bottle for $5.50, which definitely goes a long way.  The ingredients include Mineral Oil, Veg Oil (Sesame Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil, Cotton seed Oil, Palmolein Oil), oil extract of Goosberry. What worries me is the mineral oil since that’s something I usually don’t like , but overall, the ingredients aren’t too bad.   I apply the oil and massage it in my hair and scalp and leave it on overnight.  In the morning,  I do my regular wash and shampoo routine.   I won’t apply it if I’m going outdoors and I’m not going to wash my hair, because this oil has a pretty strong and…distinct smell.

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I also picked up Dabur Vatika oil, which is something I use more frequently.  The 300ml bottle was $7.50, and once again, a little really goes a long way for me.   The  ingredients in this oil includ Pure Coconut Oil ,Lemon, Amla, Neem leaves, and Henna.   I apply this Vatika oil  2-3 nights a week and I really make sure to massage my scalp since the oil is very beneficial to a dry and itchy scalp.  Plus, it’s not as heavy and the smell isn’t as strong as the Amla oil, so I’ve found I can actually style my hair as usual and go in the morning.

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Next on my ayuvedic hair care list?  I’d love to try henna.   There are so many benefits such as strengthening hair and less shedding overall.  Plus, it is a great alternative to commercial hair coloring.  The downside?  It can be messy and it’s very time consuming.   I’ve been reading Wes at Honey Brown Sugar’s accounts of her henna applications and it has really tempted me to jump on in after seeing the results.   I believe a box of henna at my local Indian grocery store was about $2.99, so it’s definitely worth trying.

Appreciating Alaïa

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I was reading Cathyrn Horne’s “On the Runway” blog and she wrote that Azzedine Alaïa, who was going to have 7 models wear his dresses last night’s “Models as a Muse” Costume Institute exhibit and party, pulled his dresses from the show.  He asked the models not to wear the dresses once he saw that his work was not going to be included in the exhibit. Naomi Campbell, a longtime muse and friend of Alaïa’s, boycotted the gala altogether.   I thought it was a real shame, because I feel Alaïa is already underrepresented enough as it is in today’s American fashion magazines and editorials, especially American Vogue.   The man has been a legend in the fashion world for decades, when you think of a designer and their model muses, Alaïa fits the bill.

For instance, this feature, “The Artist and his Model” from Elle January, 2003, showcases Alaïa and his muse, Giselle Bündchen and his S/S couture collection:

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And there is his biggest model muse, Naomi Campbell, who also owns a significant amount of Alaïa in her personal collection:

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What I love most about Alaïa is that his clothes are made to fit a woman’s body and showcase curves.  The design is simple and unfussy, yet you can see what makes it specia once seen how it fits on the body:

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Plus, his footwear is always beautiful and on point:

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Images from The Fashion Spot and Browns Fashion

Shopping the Closet

416645229_24e549245eImage from Flickr via Frankie Roberto

As I’ve been taking advantage of all of the markdowns in stores lately, I’ve decided that I need to take a step back and reflect.  Do I love it or am I just buying this pair of shoes because they are marked down to drastically and it would be .   Couple this with an imploding closet and you have some trouble keeping tabs on your current inventory.  And with the way things are nowadays, feeding into a self-imposed consumerism frenzy isn’t the way to go.

So I’m determined to only buy a couple more items for Summer–a nice pair of flats and a couple of dresses–and I’m done.   The rest will be from my own beautiful closet.  However, as I’ve glossed over the heap that I can’t make sense of right now, there are a few pointers that I need to keep in mind:

The Tailor:

Yes, I admit it, I am guilty of buying pants items that haven’t fit quite right and I haven’t done a darn thing about it.  Pants that are a bit too long or blazers that could look much better if I did some nipping and tucking.  You can make your clothes look brand new again or you can make a badly fitting item look like it was made just for you once immaculately tailored.

The Shoe Repairman

I have a pair of Corso Como I thought I’d never be able to wear because my calves were too large, yet they have been brought back to life many times by my local shoe repair shop.  He explained how he could either stretch the leather for about a week or he could insert elastic into the boots to make them feel more comfortable.  Mind you, this was a pair of boots I bought in an online sale, and I’ve contemplated selling  them back many a time on Ebay.  However, thanks to a great shoe repairman, these boots are like new and feel like they are made to fit for me.

Taking Care of what You have:

Paying attention to how I do my laundry.  Going to the dry cleaners.  Taking the time out to hand wash items that state they must be hand washed.  Should be easy, right?  Easier said than done.  However, for  the longevity of the clothes I already have, I need to buck up and take care of them.

Organization:

This, might be the hardest part of all.   However, if I’m going to shop my closet, then I need to make my closet look “shoppable”.  Some people use color-coding and others pair outfits together that they already have.  For me, when the clothes are in a big heap or if they are disorganized, I feel like I don’t have much to choose from.  Being more organized, I can clearly see what I have and pair my outfits together more easily and decisively.

Shopping Smart:

Starting in the Fall especially, I need to have a clear-cut plan on of what I want to buy and stick to it.  A few moderately priced and good-quality items and a few accessories are really all I need.   Classic items that I can build around my basics and build upon.   Buying a shirt made of good quality that might cost twice as much as a shirt whose quality is sub-par will go a lot further and the cost per wear will outlast the cheaper shirt.

With these tips, I hope I will have fun re-discovering what’s in my closet and building new outfits with less purchasing.

For the Love of Jewelry

In my opinion, jewelry is one of the most personal and authentic items you can wear.  For me, I love jewelry that tells a story and has character.  I don’t want to wear it just to compliment an outfit, I wear a piece because it’s another form of expression and the creator of the piece put thought into the beauty as well as the idea of what the piece will exude.   One of my favorite places for finding unique jewelry from unique sellers is Etsy.  I’m contemplating going on a big shopping spree for some new jewelry, so I’ve been browsing Etsy pretty hard lately.  Here are a few of my favorite Etsy shops with some beautiful and unique jewelry:

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Frankie, of Swell Vintage, has a great eye for  vintage finds and recreates some beautiful vintage jewelry pieces.  All of her jewelry is made from antique parts.   The best part about her jewelry is that it will spruce up any outfit whether it is casual or dressy and would be perfect for any occasion. That and I can see women of all ages wearing her jewelry.  My mother as well as I could have appreciation for her pieces, and her shop would be perfect for me   Plus, I love pearls and Frankie incorporates them well with the antique parts for a luxurious feel.  Here are a few more of her pieces:

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The ladies behind Untamed Menegerie, mother/daughter team Nikki and Penny, create some beautiful pieces that remind me of Gothic New Orleans.   Their delicate pieces are made of acrylic which give birth to hauntingly beautiful silhouettes such as the Melancholy Lashes necklace below:

untamed-1Another pendant that I’m quite fond of is their “The Sea Be Ours” pendant which showcases a pirate ship:

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And an adorable pair of earrings named “Lola”:

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For some adorable cocktail jewelry with flair, I’d point you to Galit’s shop.  This Israel-based designer’s creations burst with color and unique shapes.  I could see wearing her necklaces to a cocktail party, wedding, or even as an everyday piece.  And her bridal jewelry is classic and very affordable for a bride or bridal party.  Plus, fellas, I think her jewelry would be great gifts :

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For rings?  I’m a sucker for big cocktail rings and Kimari Jewelry is the right place for me to get them.  I love the altered art she uses for her rings and the art is definitely unique.  Check out a few that I’m thinking of buying:il_430xn65033780

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And for steampunk jewelry, I really like EDM Designs. Ricky’s steampunk jewelry designs have been featured in Bust magazine as well as  Auxilary Magazine.    The creations not like anything else I’ve seen before and while I’m relatively new to the steampunk jewelry scene, I love how striking it is while mixing vintage and futuristic elements.  Here are some beautiful creations:

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And of course, this doesn’t encompass all of the great jewelry finds on Etsy.  That’s one source for jewelry that I could scourge for hours and hours on end alone.  My local vintage and antique stores, sample sale sites like Gilt and many other websites across the web have some wonderful jewelry out there.  And if you hurry ladies, there’s still the chance for 20% off at Rilee and Lo‘s April Showers Sale which is until 4/24 .   With jewelry from Elizabeth and James, Gorjana, andRachel Leigh to name a few,  you can find some great pieces.  Just type in the code “SHOWER” at check out.