ACCESSORIES DESIGNER KATHY KORVIN USES THE INTRINSIC BEAUTY OF PRECIOUS METALS TO CREATE EXQUISITE PIECES.
Byline: Heidi Lender
PARIS — When Kathy Korvin bites into a bagel, a squiggly silver coil spiraling up her index finger catches the light; when she moves her arm, a swanky solid cuff surrounding a miniature skull named “Joe” peeks out from under her beat-up jeans jacket. All it takes is one look at the fair-haired, blue-eyed designer, with a black Prada bag resting beside her and rain-drenched red Patrick Cox shoes airing out below, and it’s clear — Korvin is an accessory hound.
It’s no wonder then that the hip 37-year-old is responsible for the latest jewelry frenzy to hit Paris: simple, stylish silver hardware. Sitting in Joseph on Avenue Montaigne, her home away from home and the first place to showcase her debut collection last year, Korvin modestly explains what drove her onto the accessories circuit.
“I was fed up with design accessories, big and fake. I wanted to start working with a nobler material and make it more simple for a Nineties feeling,” says the Cuban-born designer of Hungarian descent. “I wanted to be able to afford jewelry I like that was compatible with clothes I like wearing.”
After dabbling in modeling, fashion styling and even representing the coolest coiffeurs in Paris, Korvin was persuaded by her good friend Ines de la Fressange to delve into the art of accessories. Her first effort was a concoction of old metals, thread, name tags and anything else she could find. But three months later, what was once a hobby turned into a real enterprise.
“I got inspired by seeing how alive gold and silver are. They have a life of their own — they sing. When I saw the raw material, it suddenly became a passion. And it doesn’t really need that much work done to it,” she says.
Fine silver coils, chunky cuffs, wiry chokers and ID bracelets “went right out of my shop into Joseph’s window,” remembers Korvin of the pieces that have now become her classics. Bergdorf Goodman, Ultimo in Chicago and the trendy Et Vous chain in France followed shortly after. In July, Korvin took her first stab at couture, accessorizing the collection of her pal Michel Klein for Guy Laroche.
“My designs are to underline a woman’s beauty, not to say, ‘Here, I have a big chunk of jewelry on,”‘ she explains. “It’s a whole trend going into the year 2000; everyone’s bored with the super consumer and throw-away things.”
Korvin, who is self-financed and makes every piece by hand in a small atelier in the ninth arrondissment, describes her wares as falling somewhere between fantasy and real jewelry.
“I’m in the middle. It answers my needs and therefore probably a lot of women’s,” she says, noting her flexibility to do special-order pieces, including a version of the silver spiral ring in white gold with two tiny diamonds at the end.
For spring, Korvin has expanded her collection from 25 to 200 pieces. There’s a “couture” theme — inspired by her recent journey into that realm — in rectangular bracelets and earrings threaded with silver, cuffs with silver seams and new spiral shapes. Korvin has also introduced color this season, “in a cheap way, inspired by the souks of Provence and Africa.”
Wholesale prices run from $19 (100 francs) for a simple ring to $151 (800 francs) for the skull cuff.
“My accessories are more than a just a trend,” says Korvin. “I hope it will still be selling in 50 years.”