The fine jewelry designer and CFDA Fashion Award nominee chats with WWD.
WWD: Congrats on your CFDA nomination for the Swarovski Award for Accessory Design. How did you find out about it?
Irene Neuwirth: It is superexciting and such an incredible honor. I was on a plane, as usual, and just before I landed, my dear friend and colleague sent an e-mail that Steven Kolb from CFDA had phoned our office to say I was nominated.
WWD: What do you plan to wear?
I.N.: Oh, I wish I knew. I have a few options — something feminine and colorful and bohemian, for sure!
WWD: Do you have a favorite retail indulgence?
I.N.: I would have to say Capitol in Charlotte, N.C., for my own sense of personal style. I love the bohemian yet luxurious vibe. The owner [Laura Vinroot-Poole] and I share a similar sensibility.
WWD: You are a native Californian. Could you ever live in New York?
I.N.: Yes, if I had a lot of money! But I would find it hard to give up the simple pleasures of California life. I have a house on the Venice canals; I have a rowboat that my dog Teddy loves to ride in.
WWD: Is your dog your mascot?
I.N.: Yes. I don’t advertise yet, but if I did, I would use Teddy as my model.
WWD: You are one of Barneys New York’s top sellers. How has business been lately?
I.N.: It is kind of scary when you are at the top because you don’t know if you can grow from there. That said, my business is up 68 percent this year.
WWD: What can we expect to see at the upcoming Couture jewelry show?
I.N.: For this show I have created 100 one-of-a-kind pieces. My sales agents are educated in my product and they know my core collection, so I wanted to show pieces for that “top 1 percent” client who collects my jewelry and wants a truly unique piece.
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