“I’m a Gemini and very comfortable with duality,” said accessories designer Chris Habana, reflecting on his work for some of New York’s freshest young brands. “I love the exercise of having full creative reign over my own collections for CHRISHABANA and My Enemy, contrasted by all these collaborations where I take other designers’ aesthetics into consideration.”
This NYFW, Habana was the season’s most sought after talent for creating exclusive jewelry, teaming up with longtime friend and CFDA Winner, Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe, as well as CFDA nominees Adam Selman and Chromat—a loaded lineup that solidified him as one of the city’s strongest exports.
Adam Selman Spring ’17
Working with Selman allowed Habana to break into hair accessories and explore his more playful side, he said. The two took inspiration from Aaronel deRoy Gruber’s plexiglass sculptures, experimenting with magenta and orange hues to create bold pieces still grounded by hard, graphic lines. Much like Gruber’s work, Habana’s barrettes evoked a strong sense of structure, while his paillette front-to-back earrings provided lightweight balance, reflecting the artist’s layered transparencies.
“There was also a sense of sweetness that Adam wanted to evoke,” Habana said. “The final pieces we created were these front-to-back earrings that literally take the iridescent, fuchsia paillettes Adam used in his collection [but] we added a thin silver rim on the edges and finished the front part off with a pearl.”
Chromat Spring ’17
Habana described working with Chromat Founder Becca McCharen-Tran as a “fluid design process,” as he found inherent connections between his designs and hers. “We both love clean, minimal lines and are inspired by architecture, intriguing structures and the future,” he said. “She’s a very thoughtful designer and wanted us to come up with hardware ideas that tie back to the Chromat identity.”
For spring ’17, the two collaborated on developing a sleek, feminine buckle, or a “linear cage,” to reflect on Habana’s own brand, which he said has often explored cage-like concepts. The result was a minimal choker with cage closures and complementary buckles that decorated Chromat’s collection, collectively titled Hyperwave.
Chromat Spring ’17
“Becca possessed a sense of athleticism and motion in her garments,” Habana said. “It’s her core brand DNA to create technically precise and active pieces, [so] I think the cage buckles we developed and created were literal translations of motion and the body.”
In addition to accessories created exclusively for Chromat, Habana said Becca wanted to feature some of his existing work, so every model on the runway wore original silver jewelry, from his oversized septums to minimal ear cuffs. “Edda Gud, [Chromat’s] stylist was particularly interested in our septum cuffs, so we emptied out our inventory to realize her vision,” Habana said.
Backstage at Gypsy Sport Spring ’17
For Gypsy Sport spring ’17, Habana said Uribe was “very clear” on what he wanted: Bottle caps, so he immediately began researching an Ethiopian tribe, Dassanech, that uses bottle caps and other found objects to create accessories and wigs. Habana mimicked the collection’s color scheme and found a vendor that could enamel custom Haturn bottle caps in black, white, orange, purple, and green.
“We took the custom cast Haturn bottle caps and combined them with recycled stacked bottle caps, can tabs, bungee cord, thread, bones [and] even ravey barbell jewelry,” he said. “My team [and I] created statement necklaces, bolo ties, key chains, rings, clip-on earrings [and] hoop earrings, [but the] feathered neck cuff was a highlight for me.”
Gypsy Sport Spring ’17
The collection itself was greatly inspired by the Olympics, which Habana said put the “Sport” back in “Gypsy Sport,” and inspired his use of subtle sportswear details, such as bungee cords.
To offset this, he also incorporated more delicate, hand-worked touches, like wrapped feathers and threads—a look that revisited some of his earlier collaborations with Uribe. He said he wanted the jewelry to feel as “precious” and “handmade” as possible to provide a contrast from the lineup’s sporty patched sweatshirts and rip-stop nylon shorts.
“I am self taught, so elaborate hand work has been ingrained in my process,” Habana said. “It’s so great that I can revisit those techniques when I collaborate with someone like Rio for [his] Gypsy Sport line. It’s a homecoming of sorts, and as they say, ‘There’s no place like home.'”
Photography: Kohl Murdock