Natasha Collis was at a crossroads several years ago.
This story first appeared in the July 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
An abstract painter, Collis had started to dabble in fine jewelry making to supplement her artist lifestyle. When the indie jewelry business took off, she had to decide which medium she would pursue. She stuck with jewelry, but wearable art has been in Collis’ lexicon since childhood in London.
Her grandmother, Joan Burstein — known as “Mrs. B.” — cofounded Browns, the directional British retailer that sells edgy apparel by the likes of Stella McCartney, Dries Van Noten and Comme des Garçons.
“Basically, I’ve lived and breathed in fashion and am very lucky for it,” said Collis, 36. Her mother, Caroline Burstein, is Browns’ creative director and her uncle, Simon Burstein, is chief executive officer.
“[Fashion] has never been forced on me,” she said. “It felt very natural to me to be amongst the buyers. I’m not really fazed by it. It’s been a good role for me in my jewelry [business].”
Burstein’s pieces are delicate and whisperlike, unlike much of the fine designer jewelry in the marketplace. Using 18-karat gold, the designer and her two assistants fire up solid gold nuggets and bead them along with diamonds, and sapphires in muted tones of gray and blue onto delicate cluster chains, fringe earrings and light bracelets. All the jewelry is handmade by Collis in Ibiza. Collis relocated there three years ago from London.
Collis counts nature as her chief inspiration and prefers her pieces to be layered for a more prominent effect.
“Its about subtlety,” said Collis of her signature line. “It’s about the oddness and the randomness of nature.”
This fall, Collis will begin selling in the U.S. through Muse, a jewelry showroom that has a list of independent jewelers such as Yossi Harari, Monique Péan and Sally Sohn. Retail prices for the line range from $400 to $10,250.
In July, Collis will open an atelier in Ibiza, which will double as a store and factory.
Collis’ first U.S. accounts include Hirshleifer’s in Manhasset, N.Y., and Barneys New York in Manhattan and Beverly Hills. There are plans to open up to six additional stores within the next year. Internationally, the brand is sold at retailers such as Feathers and Browns in London and Vulcanize in Tokyo.