JAZZ JOHNSON AND HELENA KHAZANOVA
NEW YORK — When Jazz Johnson and Helena Khazanova were looking for what to call their jewelry line, they thought about using their first names. But “Jazz and Helena” seemed too serious, if not a little long. They wanted something catchy, something fun. So they settled on “Eurotrash,” which they feel encapsulates their collection: long, dangling asymmetric earrings; big, brash necklaces made of semiprecious stones, and cufflinks emblazoned with tongue-in-cheek sayings like “Gold Digger.”
This story first appeared in the June 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Everyone wants to be a little Euro,” explains Khazanova, sitting on a couch in Johnson’s Upper East Side apartment, which is serving for the time being as the company’s home base. (Johnson actually lives in Pottersville, N. J., with her husband, a high school teacher at Far Hills Country Day; Khazanova lives in the East Eighties.) “They want to go out all the time and have long lunches.”
“Everyone’s so decked out and competitive about fashion on the Upper East Side,” adds Johnson. “Part of the fun is making our jewelry outrageous.”
The pair met in 2000 at Condé Nast, where Khazanova, 27, worked as a rover and Johnson, 26, toiled in the fashion department at Vanity Fair.
“I hated being a fashion closet girl,” says Johnson, who has also dabbled in public relations. “I wanted to do something on my own.” A mutual friend, Alex Chantecaille, suggested they work on a project together and they hatched the plan for Eurotrash.
“It’s not an unusual thing to have a jewelry line,” Johnson admits, referring to the many young women in the city who’ve embarked on their own gemology endeavors, including pal Zani Gugelmann. “It’s also a relatively easy thing to do.” Getting good materials for a clothing line, she says, is much more complicated. “Though it’s a pain in the ass dealing with people in the diamond district.”
Eurotrash, according to Khazanova, is not just a flash in the pan. “We don’t take it lightly,” she insists. “It’s not like we’re just going to do it for a weekend.” She talks of embellishing vintage pieces and moving on to jewel-embossed accessories.
The line is not yet sold in stores; the pair have been relying on trunk shows and word of mouth for the pieces, which range in price from $275 to $2,400. Frédéric Fekkai, who spotted the jewelry on Johnson, will host a two-day sale at his salon on 57th Street on Thursday and Friday of this week.
“Helena and I are bad salespeople,” Johnson says. “We’re never going to push the jewelry — we want our product to sell itself.” So far, the tactic has been working. Kate Gubelmann, Phoebe’s mother, bought a pair of the labradorite earrings. “She called me two weeks later asking for another pair and said, ‘I had to give your earrings to my friend, Emilia Fanjul.’” Johnson also made a pair of cufflinks emblazoned with the words “Born Rich” to commemorate the documentary her brother, Jamie, directed.
“We just want people to feel sexy and glamorous,” says Khazanova, when asked about the company’s aim.
“I want them to feel like money,” adds Johnson. “I want people to wear our cheap jewelry and feel rich.”
— Marshall Heyman
LOS ANGELES — After having tried her hands at fashion curating and consulting, social gadfly Liz Goldwyn is putting them to work on an eponymous jewelry line, which will debut this month at Barneys New York.
Goldwyn hatched the idea while working on a burlesque documentary that was eight years in the making.
“I had really bad insomnia. After 24 hours in the editing room, you need something very task-oriented because you can’t concentrate on much else,” Goldwyn barks into her cell phone while running orders back and forth to the Barneys store in Beverly Hills.
Her late-night creations were used in February’s Jess Holzworth show in Los Angeles, which was a tribute to Thirties Surrealism. “Jess asked me to do the jewels, so I made about 60 pieces in one month and sold out of all of them,” says Goldwyn. Among those wowed by her designs were her friend, Jacqui Getty, who bought a necklace at the show, and Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart, who rang up Goldwyn immediately.
“Liz has such a great style. She’s a real Barneys girl,” says Gilhart. “Her collection is highly personal and based on a lot of things she has collected, so anything she would put together is going to be clever and unique and stylish. It looks like something from the past, yet contemporary.”
For her debut collection, Goldwyn re-created some of the one-of-a-kind necklaces and charm bracelets from the Holzworth show and designed others with a similar Man Ray-Cocteau feeling.
“It’s more an art project for me,” she says of her new 50-piece collection, which will range in price from $500 to $2,500. “I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the grind of having to produce something mass every season — unless I’m on QVC or Home Shopping Network. But I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t take the business seriously.”
Insisting she’s not one to dabble, she’s thrown herself into the craft head first, apprenticing with metal workers, interning with gem miners and taking geology classes. “It’s like being a kid in science class. I have to wear a mask because the fumes are really toxic,” she notes with a laugh. “Going into Barneys, I was concerned that people would think I was an amateur. I have no respect for people who don’t know their own trade. Any good designer of clothing knows how to cut a pattern, and it’s the same thing with jewelry.”
Though Goldwyn is mum on details of her next collection, only saying it deals with “giant rocks” and electroformed gold seashells, Barneys already has made plans to feature it in its Madison Avenue windows. (A few pieces also will be available at the boutique Beauty Contest in Tokyo.) She also has designed a few pieces for men, including a gold lion’s head medallion. “I’d love to have Pharrell wear it,” she sighs, referring to Pharrell Williams. In the meantime, her husband of two years, Frank Longo, has been modeling the piece.
Despite the years she has spent in fashion, supporting designers such as Bruce and Susan Cianciolo, and even collaborating with Nicolas Ghesquière on her own wedding dress, a Goldwyn fashion line is not in the works. “Life takes you in strange directions when you least expect it, but I would never want to make clothes.”
— Marcy Medina