The fine jewelry label James Banks is a 50-50 collaboration between actor-designer Adam Shulman and goldsmith Heidi Nahser Fink, but Shulman attributes almost all of the inspiration to his wife, Anne Hathaway.
“You give me too much credit,” the actress demurred gently during a recent visit to Forty Five Ten in Dallas.
But she couldn’t stop Shulman from describing how she introduced him to his business partner, persuaded him to start the label about three years ago and suggested he name it for his grandfather, who also created custom jewelry for his wife.
“She designed a piece for me with Heidi for our first Christmas together, which was amazing, and then I wanted to design something for her,” Shulman explained. “So I collaborated with Heidi, and then people were saying to Annie, ‘You should sell these; I want to buy them,’ so she convinced me to start a line.”
Hathaway met Nahser Fink on the set of “Alice in Wonderland.”
“She designed a lot of the pieces for Helena [Bonham Carter’s] character, like the crowns that we would wear,” she explained.
Hathaway also kindled the idea for the line’s signature piece, the Lightkeeper, a borosilicate glass and 18-karat gold bulb pendant that encapsulates tiny diamonds, rubies and charms. It sparked when Hathaway was headed off to a movie set after a period of vacation and nesting with Shulman.
“I said, ‘I’m just scared to go because I feel like I found my light, and I’m afraid that if I’m away from all this, I’m going to lose it,’” Hathaway said.
Shulman became obsessed with Edison bulbs, studying them in every place he saw them before designing the elongated lamp with a removable cap. Some feature pavé diamond or thin gold filaments.
“The idea is you add stones or charms, and each stone is meant to represent a light in your life — a moment or a person, so you can look at it and it’s close to your heart,” he explained. “I like building narratives around it and for the person who wears it to be able to build their own narrative.”
The tender tale and Shulman’s unassuming persona have spurred sales of the necklace at Forty Five Ten, where the designer met clients over lunch in September, noted Brian Bolke, co-owner of Forty Five Ten.
“He is the cutest, nicest person, and the women loved him, and they loved that [the Lightkeeper] could be customized,” Bolke said. “We’ve been selling it consistently since then. It has a very artisan-craft feeling to it that people really respond to. Whenever people are wearing it, they tell the story and that person says, ‘I want to get one for my daughter’ or whomever, so it’s been great word of mouth.”
James Banks also features monocles that encase tiny faceted jewels and charms, one of which Hathaway wore to the party at Forty Five Ten, plus star motifs and articulated butterflies based on real insects.
Most James Banks pieces retail for $1,500 to $3,000, but the range is $300 to $6,000, depending on the materials.
“My partner Heidi makes everything,” Shulman noted. “The butterflies are mixed metals, and each is cut out and inlaid, so it takes a long time to make. We use a 15th-century technique that they use in Japanese sword making where they use alloys and different chemicals to change the color. We’re working on blue.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast