Meet…Caroline Ventura of BRVTVS

we had a jewelry crush on Caroline Ventura of BRVTVS (pronounced “Brutus” and named for the unfaithful friend of Julius Caesar) well before we actually met her. now that we’ve teamed up with her for the launch of our fine-jewelry collection, we thought it was high time we invited ourselves over to her West Village studio to see how she puts it all together.
Caroline wears her own COS button-down and the Point Sur hightower skinny jean in epic wash.

A Google search reveals that you learned about soldering in middle school. True? The other kids were making friendship bracelets and you were an aspiring metalsmith?
My dad worked as a video engineer in Hollywood on a lot of films—all the Rocky and Rambo movies and the Naked Gun series, to name a few—so he was always fixing video equipment in his workshop. A lot of it required him to fix circuit boards, so he was always soldering things. I used to love to go in there and ask a million questions about what each part did and what needed fixing.

Like many good lines, yours began with the desire to create a bracelet you could wear every day. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I wanted a delicate bracelet for myself—something simple that I could wear daily. At the time, most of the jewelry out there was really flashy; costume jewelry was a big trend. The few pieces I liked, I couldn’t afford, so I just decided to make a bracelet myself. I researched where to buy gold at wholesale, and it just happened from there. My first trip to the diamond district in New York City opened my eyes. I bought chain, clasps, gold sheet and metal shears and pliers and went home to mess around.
How would you describe the BRVTVS aesthetic? How does it reflect your own personal approach to style?
I think things are at their best when they are simple. I love the idea of having a uniform of sorts, and I really try to design things that you put on and don’t want to take off, so it becomes a part of you.

I’m really into the idea of combining opposites. Pairing my thick ring with the delicate chain link ring is one of my favorite combos. Even the way I dress—I gravitate toward clothes that are a little more boyish, but I love feminine materials like linen and silk.

Your own personal piercing mix-and-match approach to earrings is pretty unique too…
I’m really drawn to asymmetry and mixing shapes and metals. I sell all my earrings individually, as opposed to doing them in pairs, so you can mix different pieces together to create your own unique setup. My friend Colby, who works at NY Adorned, is my go-to when I need a piercing fix. He’s brilliant at creating something unique for each person he sees.
Where does your design process start?
Each piece comes to life differently. Sometimes, I have an idea that needs to be sketched out so I can get proper proportions and see it on paper. Other times, I just have an idea and start working with the metal right away. Living in New York is great inspiration. I’m really drawn to architecture. I love when I come across an interesting shape and can figure out how to translate it into something wearable.
Photography by Bryan Derballa. Makeup by Suzy Gerstein for the Magnet Agency.

To shop our entire assortment of BRVTVS, click here. Then, explore the J.Crew fine jewelry collection here.

Studio Tour: Catbird™

in certain jewelry-obsessed circles, Catbird’s Rony Vardi is known as the authority on the art of the ring stack. we checked in with the Williamsburg shop owner and newest J.Crew fine-jewelry collaborator to find out how she got her start.
Rony wears her own Saint James® for J.Crew slouchy tee and her own stack of Catbird rings.

Before Rony Vardi opened Catbird on Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue in 2004 (the shop has since moved to Bedford Avenue), she was like any other twentysomething, bouncing around between jobs—working as a seamstress and then as a graphic designer. “I knew I eventually wanted to work for myself and had this idea of an ongoing creative project that would take shape over time,” she says. When a retail space opened up in her neighborhood she took it as a sign. “I think Williamsburg’s energy is still its biggest appeal, and there has always been a strong entrepreneurial spirit,” she explains. Now, Catbird has a team of 30 employees (and counting) and a three-room office space, which includes a full jewelry studio, right near the Williamsburg Bridge in addition to its stand-alone boutique.
Clockwise from top: Rony wears a Catbird 14k gold ballerina earring, a diamond elfin stud and dot earrings; Threadbare stacking rings; Catbird created this 14k gold Lovecat ring (“We first made it as a pinky ring for Jenna,” says Rony) and a pair of Les Petites earrings just for J.Crew; she pairs a personal piece with the Catbird long changeling necklace.
At Catbird’s storefront, the vitrines of jewelry remain the shop’s biggest draw. “When we first started, we had one woman who made us a few bands from home. Now we have 17 full-time jewelry designers,” says Rony. The process is wholly collaborative too. Some designs start with a wax carving or sketch. Designs aren’t introduced seasonally but instead when the team comes up with something they really like. Case in point: The idea for one of their best sellers, the ultrathin Threadbare ring, came from her buyer, Leigh Plessner. “The idea was this little wisp of gold that would become an instant keepsake,” says Rony. “We love picturing little girls being given their mom’s Catbird stacks years from now.”
Photography by Bryan Derballa. Makeup by Imane Fiocchi and hair by Melisande Page, both for Beauty Exchange NYC.

To shop the entire Catbird assortment, click here. To explore all of J.Crew’s fine jewelry,
click here.

Studio Tour: Jennifer Fisher

former LA-based stylist, Jennifer Fisher’s jewelry collection was born out of an unfruitful search for a necklace to commemorate the birth of her son, Shane. we visited the designer in her SoHo studio early one morning for our own lesson in layering.

During her childhood, Jennifer Fisher’s parents would return from their travels with bracelet charms for her as a reminder of their adventures. After the birth of her first son Shane she had trouble finding something similarly symbolic. So she asked a local jeweler to make a dog tag with Shane’s name on it. “It was an instant conversation piece,” she says of the tag, which she wore on a long gold chain. “People began asking me to create custom ones. From there, the business was born.”

For her fine jewelry collaboration with J.Crew, Jennifer and our team selected 10-karat charms like a lock and key, lightening bolt, a jagged star (an exclusive she created just for us), dog tags with the words like “love” or “dream” as well as a selection of initials. The assortment is meant to mixed and matched. “I love the idea that you can make your necklace feel dainty or heavy, simple or eclectic depending on your style,” she says.

Photography by Bryan Derballa. Makeup by Imane Fiocchi for Beauty Exchange NYC, hair by Jessica Gillin.

To shop our entire collection of Jennifer Fisher® for J.Crew, click here.

Meet…The Ropes™

bracelet designer Shana Ready popped down from her home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, to talk nautical inspiration and give us a quick tutorial on how she puts together her handmade lanyard bracelets.

Shana always dreamed of being a designer, but after attending the Rhode Island School of Design and working as a fashion designer in New York, she found herself drawn back to her home state. Surprisingly, it was when surrounded by the natural beauty of Maine that she finally found the inspiration she was looking for. “In Maine, inspiration is less obvious, it needs to be sought out,” says Shana. She ended up creating her first bracelet styles while playing around with her husband’s lobster gear. Soon after, friends started placing their orders.
Shana makes all her jewelry by hand in a studio overlooking the ocean—so she’s never far from her original inspiration. That’s true of her materials too, which she sources locally from the area, like the authentic dock line used for tying up boats and marine hardware. As for the pop of neon orange used in some of the bracelets? It’s inspired by the buoys she’d see out on the water. “I think there is enormous beauty in utility,” she says.

Special thanks to the Lobster Joint.

Photography by Bryan Derballa. Makeup by Imane Fiocchi and hair by Melisande Page, both for Beauty Exchange NYC.

To shop our entire assortment of The Ropes™ bracelets, click here.

On the Rise: Marc Alary

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners and runners-up on a capsule collection. this year, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up, fine jewelry designer Marc Alary, tried his hand at costume jewelry just for J.Crew.
Marc, photographed on set with a model wearing a Marc Alary™ for J.Crew passerina tee based on a watercolor design he painted just for us.

Marc told us the Metropolitan Museum of Art is often a source of inspiration for him so we tagged along on a recent visit.

You went to art school originally, what drew you to fine jewelry making?
I started out doing illustrations, but I was always frustrated that I couldn’t carry the illustration with me; I needed to have something I could hold in my hand. Eventually, I started working in fashion doing prints and graphics for T-shirts. It added a new dimension to my work as it related to the body, yet it still wasn’t enough. It was only when I first tried my hand at jewelry that I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Is there a particular period of art you feel is closest to the aesthetic of your jewelry?
That is a good question, but I’m not sure I have exactly the right answer. I’d say Etruscan art and the end of the nineteenth-century Art Nouveau and Lalique. Then there are artists who came much later—Calder, Giacometti and Les Lalanne.

What are your favorite parts of the Met?
I love the Greek and Roman art for the lighting in the gallery, as well as all the tones of the marble statues. But I also love the medieval art and European paintings.

How did animals come to play such a prevalent role in your jewelry design?
My mom was very passionate about animals, and she used to collect books and magazines like National Geographic. I spent most of my childhood flipping through those magazines and fantasizing about seeing those incredible animals in real life.

Apart from the Met, where else do you find inspiration?
In pretty much everything, from something I see in the street or at the flea market to literature (for example, the opera, The Tales of Hoffmann). It could be a show, a ballet or an opera, or a detail of a sculpture or a fountain.

What was it like to work with J.Crew on a collection of costume pieces?
It was very interesting as the turnaround time was very different. I had to let go of controlling every single aspect of the development because normally every prototype is done by hand in my atelier in the garment district. But it was a great experience.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Special thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To shop Marc Alary’s collection of costume jewelry exclusively for J.Crew, click here.

Mark Your Calendar: D.I.Y. with Lulu Frost

hey, New Yorkers, stop by our Soho store this weekend to meet Lulu Frost designer Lisa Salzer and her design team, and customize your own bracelet or necklace. (and get a first look at the new J.Crew holiday jewelry collection while you’re at it…)
To shop our newest assortment of Lulu Frost jewelry, click here.

Discovered: Lulu Frost Handpicked Vintage Jewels

we’re excited to launch a collection of Lulu Frost vintage jewels—a mix of one-of-a-kind pieces that jewelry designer Lisa Salzer has hand selected and designed especially for our stores. (did we mention no two pieces are identical?)
A Lulu Frost “100 Year Necklace,” which includes vintage pieces from 1860-1960, was photographed in Lisa’s Flatiron studio.

A limited assortment of of Lulu Frost vintage jewelry is available exclusively across 12 stores, including locations in New York City, Chicago, Costa Mesa, California, Malibu and Washington, DC.

To shop our assortment of Lulu Frost jewelry online, click here.

Studio Tour: Jennifer Meyer

jewelry designer and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up Jennifer Meyer Maguire graciously opened the doors of her Westside showroom, served us juice from Pressed Juicery and let us try on all her jewelry. (how could we resist?!)

“My friend Tessa Benson knows how in love I am with Dolly Parton,” says Meyer as she points to a portrait hanging near her desk of the country music star in Nashville taken by photographer Harry Benson. “This was a special gift.”

There are other good luck charms, like the quote from Star Wars “Do or do not. There is no try.” It was something her husband, actor Tobey Maguire, said to her while she was thinking of starting her jewelry business. Then there are drawings from her daughter, Ruby Sweetheart, some framed (the most recent one, hanging by the doorway, was a Christmas gift) and others mounted up on a giant inspiration wall next to photos of actresses like Emma Watson wearing Meyer’s designs. Some of her most treasured keepsakes and trinkets are tacked up onto a corkboard in individual resealable plastic bags. Eventually those charms or pieces will evolve
into one of her jewelry molds.

“When I started this business, it was just me on the floor of my living room printing out FedEx labels and putting the pieces of jewelry together. Now we have a showroom. I have a team of four girls and we keep growing. We’re even looking for a new space—I couldn’t do this without them.”

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Read more about the lead-up to the launch of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections here.

And to shop the exclusive Jennifer Meyer jewelry collection and the rest of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designs, click here.

Studio Tour: Jennifer Behr

we visited designer Jennifer Behr’s new studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she crafts one-of-a-kind hair accessories. she took us through her unique hands-on (and heads-on) creation process and talked brides, bangs and making unicorn horns for Lady Gaga.
Head of the Class
Jennifer Behr studied sculpture before starting her line of hair accessories in 2005, and this makes sense when you consider how she builds each sample by hand. “I don’t draw, so I design directly on the head. [The subject is] whoever happens to be sitting closest to me in the studio at the time,” Behr says. “We’ll wear the pieces around, and there’s always a discussion about balance and weight and comfort every step of the way.” All of the designs are hand soldered in New York. (This makes the crystal work lighter and the pieces more flexible when you wear them.) Behr has on staff a full-time artisan who diligently handles all the delicate handiwork that makes up many of the designs.
Creativity at Work
Behr’s company has grown since she first launched it out of her living room eight years ago. She and her team recently moved the studio into an old factory building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “We think the space was previously used as a sewing factory, which seems appropriate,” she says. The centerpiece? The 10-foot-long drafting tables she found at a salvage yard on a trip home to Baltimore. It turns out they came from the drafting room at Sparrows Point Shipyard, where her father was chief engineer. “They’re the same tables he worked on 30 years ago, and now he’s refinishing them for us,” she says.
Mane Event
Every design in Behr’s bridal collection takes inspiration from her ready-to-wear collection, which includes crystal bobby pins, hair combs and headbands, and there’s no denying brides-to-be are drawn to the line. “Headpieces have always been connected to ceremony,” explains Behr. “Plus, they’re photographed more than any other accessory at a wedding. No one can see your shoes, but your headpiece is going to be in every photograph.” According to Behr, you don’t even need a special occasion to wear one: “There’s a bit of a bangs-growing-out season right now, hence the bobby pin popularity. People are always looking for new things to do with their hair.”
Star Struck
This marks Behr’s second season collaborating with us, and we’re carrying pieces from her fall collection as well as a few custom designs. “J.Crew gets that brides are looking for fashion pieces now rather than super-fussy, traditional bridal items,” she says. Her favorites from fall? “My personal order includes our star circlet. The Swarovski crystal stars are hand soldered onto a very delicate wire circlet, so they look like they’re floating in the hair. It’s a very romantic—and incredibly comfortable—piece.”
Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To further your wedding fix, check out our “XOXO” board on Pinterest here.

To pre-order our newest collection of Jennifer Behr styles as well as shop our weddings & parties collection, click here.

No Logo But Your Own

there’s something so delightfully unique about personalization these days, particularly amid these information-overloaded digital times we’re living in. we’re big fans of customization, and so are these stylish ladies, whom we asked to share their most treasured personalized item in their closets or on their desks. each piece gets our sartorial stamp of approval…

Check out J.Crew’s Monogram Shop and create your own inspired customizable pieces here.

© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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