At the Kenzo Spring 2013 collection preview last November, we all ran for the jewelry. Two tiger paws, in washed color over metal, that clasped around your clavicle; a real choker. A single paw, a barrette for the hair, that looked as if it were emerging from your skull and clawing your mane into place. They were made in collaboration with Delfina Delettrez, we were told. Of course they were.
Delfina Delettrez makes some of the most iconic jewelry in the fashion industry. Her Victorian mourning collars come with hair and bleeding hearts. Her Rapunzel collection cascaded with metal fringe. A Schiaparelli-with-Dali charm and humor are ever-present in the little eyes and lips that dangle from pearls on barbell earrings or in a ring, all seeing.
For her latest collection, Magic Triangle, Delettrez redacts a bit. The look is more minimal than her signature, but still significant— her jewelry always refers. Here, Delettrez talks to us about her latest work, its inspirations, and how she wears her own creations.
There seems to be so much history in your pieces—some of what I’ve seen is so authentically Victorian, some so Surrealist. What’s your process like? What kind of research do you do?
I can be inspired by any sort of thing. Sometimes you don’t even know where the idea comes from. I watch everything with great curiosity. I see beauty in everything and everything for me can be transformed into a refined piece of jewelry.
The most recent collection, Magic Triangle, is less obviously symbolic than your earlier collections. It’s a little more minimal, geometric. Can you talk to me about the references?
There is a concept: my jewelry is now less figurative. A fascination of the unknown, the supernatural, the artificial, the lights, the shapes. This is the first time I used topaz, a stone with this UFO-like feeling: I wanted to transform the UFO’s lights floating in the space into mysterious lights floating on the body.
And how about the video with Daniel Sannwald? It looks like if Dali was alive and working as an net artist…
The starting point was the unknown, the supernatural. The idea was to create the atmosphere of another dimension: the tunnel at the beginning of the movie I did with Daniel Sannwald is a tunnel to the 5th dimension! I imagined someone in 1000 years finding this jewelry and wondering about who it belonged to first. Especially when you deal with precious stones, jewelry becomes fragments of eternity and I wanted to represent them in another dimension, like futuristic fragments.
How do you wear your own jewelry? Do you load it on?
I like to change them all day long. It’s like a mom giving attention to all of her kids. Sometimes I find myself obsessed with one specific piece of jewelry and it’s when I take that piece back and start to think how this piece can evolve into something else. Wearing them is so important to me. I see the reaction they have on people, I see mistakes when they are present, I feel what needs to be modified, what is their power. I use my body as a machine, I am my own crash test dummy.
I love what you’ve done with Kenzo for Spring 2013. How much did you and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim collaborate?
This is the 4th collaboration, and every time is a challenge for me. It’s impossible to not be attracted by Kenzo’s prints, so every time I work from their prints, adding a metallic vibe to their concept. For the Spring 2013 I worked on tiger paw around the neck, like an amulet to survive in a metropolitan jungle.
Have you considered doing a lower price point line or a collaboration with a high-street label? I’m sure the demand is there.
I prefer to remain small, working with my artisan on one-of-a-kind pieces, looking at the stones transforming into a jewel and my ideas that come to life. I love the human touch on every piece of mine.