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Now hear this: Regardless of the recession, the new crop of accessories designers isn’t afraid to luxe it up a little.
Tobi Tobin Vintage Jewelry
Who: Tobi Tobin
Backstory: Michigan native Tobi Tobin’s career trajectory might make a good script. Tobin moved to L.A. after a stint modeling in Europe. She became a personal assistant, working for Keanu Reeves and others, then an interior decorator. But Tobin also creates clothes, home goods and jewelry, and she plans to open a store for it all at West Hollywood’s Sunset Plaza in May. “You grow a dream, you don’t arrive at one,” she says.
Collection: Party-hopping in France last summer, Tobin began creating necklaces to wear, crafted from assorted vintage finds. She uses rhinestone buttons, crystals, bone coat toggles, resin brooches, felt camellias, chandelier pieces, belt buckles and crocodile skin in the strands.
On letting go: “The necklaces are like my babies. I love them each so much; it’s hard for me to part with them. I almost want to tell women who buy them that they aren’t allowed to carelessly drop them on the floor after a night out. They should be put in a shadow box instead of in a drawer.”
Stats: Wholesale prices range from $250 to $2,600, and the first collection of 35 one-of-a-kind necklaces is sold exclusively at Maxfield.
— Rachel Brown
Who: Lina Hamed
Backstory: Lina Hamed got into accessories design because of a perfectionist streak, though a four-year stint as a buyer at the London branch of Hermès certainly stoked her passion for luxury. “I always found a fault in every bag I owned,” recalls Hamed of the pieces she bought before her Hermès stint. Years of whipping up specialty items for Hermès clients — a crocodile saddle, for instance — also proved to be good training.
Collection: Hamed works alligator, stingray and python into her totes and satchels, all finished with rose gold hardware. The lining? Pink lambskin.
Stats: Wholesale prices range from $1,180 for a python-and-woven metal clutch to $4,585 for a big crocodile shopping bag. The line is carried by Harrod’s in London, Zai in Qatar and J Boutique in Bahrain, among others.
— Sarah Haight
Mechante of London
Who: Deborah Lyons
Backstory: Méchante means “naughty” in French, and that sums up Deborah Lyons’ new collection of stilettos, sandals and wedges. The Aegean palette of whites and blues inspired the line, says Lyons, a Parsons graduate who spent two years developing the collection in Florence factories. But shoes aren’t her only creative outlet. Studying sculpture and painting was helpful too, Lyons points out. “I spend as much time as I can painting and sketching,” she says. “This way, I hope to keep my aesthetic as fresh as possible.”
Collection: The 20-style lineup features pieces with subtle flash — python platforms and peep-toe pumps, silk ribboned wedges and flat sandals embellished with glass beads.
Stats: Wholesale prices range from $175 to $380, and the spring collection will be sold in Chuckies in New York, Larizia London in England and Ounass department stores in Dubai and Bahrain.
Who: Patricia Lukoszek
Backstory: While working in the design and development departments of such firms as Nautica and Daryl K, Patricia Lukoszek found herself imagining ways to apply draping to accessories. She wanted a soft, slouchy carrier with none of the flashy hardware often characteristic of upmarket bags. “I actually approach the handbags as if they are clothing,” she says of the collection, which is named for her birthday.
Collection: Think boho luxury — the kind of loose, supple bag in which both a yoga mat and laptop can easily fit — in shades that range from toffee to russet to lipstick pink.
Stats: Wholesale prices go from $210 for a clutch to $395 for an oversize bag. The spring line will be carried by Barneys New York at Madison Avenue.
Joseph Brooks Jewelry
Who: Joseph Brooks
Backstory: Originally trained as an artist, New York native Joseph Brooks, who says he’s “old enough to have seen the Velvet Underground at Max’s Kansas City,” moved to L.A. after he went to a San Francisco Sex Pistols concert and learned that Southern California was a punk hotbed. He became an L.A. disc jockey and later owned the shop Vinyl Fetish and clubs The Veil and Fetish. An avid bird watcher, he now travels the globe in search of birds — he has seen 6,300 species — and stones.
Collection: Quartz, tiger’s eye, turquoise, agate, black onyx and black tourmaline are among the materials Brooks uses. In Indonesia last year, the designer spotted banded agate that he translated into bracelets now sported by the Jonas Brothers. “Joe is my favorite Jonas Brother, because I think his style is really cool,” Brooks says. “I would love to see my stuff on anyone from AC/DC to Madonna.”
Stats: Wholesale prices for the line range from $46 to $70 for bracelets, $60 to $220 for necklaces and $550 to $3,000 for belts. The pieces can be found in Ron Herman, Traffic and Fred Segal Rocks in the L.A. area; A+R in Venice, Calif; and Hunny in Chicago.
Who: Shahla Kareen
Backstory: Shahla Kareen’s jewelry career began back in 2002 when she was going through a divorce and couldn’t afford to shop. Kareen made her own version of a pair of earrings she’d seen at Barneys, which a buyer at Fred Segal spotted during another shopping trip. “She asked to see my collection, and on the spot I thought, ‘I’m going to tell a little white lie and say I can bring it in a few weeks,’” says the L.A.-based Kareen. She spent the next few weeks whipping one up, and Fred Segal promptly placed an order.
Collection: By fine jewelry standards, Kareen’s collection is offbeat. In addition to gold and diamonds, Kareen is partial to more exotic media such as fossils, bear molars and real sea horses.
Stats: Wholesale prices range from $316 for a bear molar and gold pendant to $6,100 for an onyx, diamond and ammonite fossil earrings. The collection is available at Maxfield in Los Angeles, and will be launched in Selfridges and Kabiri, both in London, in March.
— Jessica Iredale
Who: Serra Turker
Backstory: After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in textile design, Serra Turker worked on the design staff at Tocca, where she was more drawn to accessories than clothes. A longtime painting hobby served as inspiration for the clutches and fringed bags she began sketching after her departure from the company: “Designing bags allowed me to work on a two-dimensional surface and then transform it into a three-dimensional piece,” Turker explains.
Collection: Istanbul-born Turker drew on her Turkish roots to craft a collection with a modern look (shoulder bags have multihued stripes) with hints of vintage (she found Twenties fringe for many of the spring clutches). Turker produces the entire line in Istanbul.
Stats: Wholesale prices range from $100 for a canvas bag to $500 for a handwoven bag with vintage trim. Retailers include Scoop in New York and Miami, Circle & Square in San Francisco, and D’NA Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.