Rebecca de Ravenel will not stop at just a sphere.
The jewelry designer — who branched into bags for fall — will enter the ready-to-wear category for spring, while also introducing a suite of new jewelry styles. In doing so, she is taking care to diverge from a business solely hedged on her “Bonbon” earring design, the tiered, spherical style of which she has sold 18,000 pairs — and inspired countless other knock-offs.
Within three to five years, de Ravenel projects that accessories will comprise only 30 percent of brand sales. She looks to attribute another 30 percent to ready-to-wear, and would like to see the remaining 40 percent dedicated to lifestyle categories she intends to introduce. A home collection is in development, with an aim to launch in the next 24 to 36 months.
The Bahamian-raised designer, who worked at Oscar de la Renta before transitioning to interiors, said: “I would read an interiors magazine over a fashion magazine any day. I look at interiors for inspiration. I think women want to come to me for a little bit of fun. I love women who have fun and are daring.”
De Ravenel’s Bonbon earring has accomplished a crossover appeal not often enjoyed by a singular costume jewelry design. They are a celebrity favorite (spotted on Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, among others) while also a staple of high society (Lauren Santo Domingo, Princess Eugenie of York and Princess Caroline of Monaco) and styled for official engagements both casual and formal. Beyond this, the earrings are catnip for brides and resort-goers worldwide.
The designer attributes their success to a cocktail of societal shifts: The rising cost of precious metals, matched with an increasing casual lifestyle no longer justifies the purchase of fine jewelry for each important occasion.
“I think people don’t dress the way they used to dress. Women used to get very glammed up for black-tie parties, but now they don’t dress the way used to with real jewelry. People are being more conscious of what they are buying and they are obviously more wary of the price of gold — real earrings are really expensive today,” de Ravenel said.
Amid this change, de Ravenel has seized an opportunity. Wrapped in thread like silk-spun ping-pong balls, the earrings — launched in 2015 — are cheerful and “strong” said the designer. They are priced from $295 to $895.
“It’s a lot of bang — you walk out wearing earrings with a lot of statement. Especially if you are spending a lot of money on a dress, these earrings are not that expensive by comparison, and you can wear them again on many occasions,” she said.
De Ravenel will enter ready-to-wear for spring, introducing a line of hammered silk caftans, kimonos and jumpsuits, block-printed linen leisurewear and layered tulle ballskirts. Retail prices are expected to range from $495 to $1,950. Designs will become available for pre-order through a Moda Operandi trunk show, beginning Sept. 21.
But rather than translate the Bonbon’s same colorful, whimsical proportions into clothes, de Ravenel has created ready-to-wear that serves as an elegant, muted palette that can be layered with statement accessories.
“I think people associate me with a lot of color and prints, but I’ve decided to go the opposite way. I want to see women really dress again in something a little more sophisticated and upscale. I will tell you I’m never going to make something edgy clothing-wise. It’s not who I am or how I dress or see women. I want to make women feel beautiful,” said de Ravenel.
“I personally love a huge earring with a beautiful white caftan. I also don’t think you can have a crazy gold necklace with thousands of prints. I wanted clothes that are easy and accessible to women in many shapes and materials.”
A new pouch handbag style as well as 16 new earring designs are also to be introduced. Among them are oversize hoop styles strung with shell and wood charms, threaded shell styles and hand-carved wooden drop earrings. Bangles inlaid with crystal cabochons will also be included in the collection lineup.
Two new bags are also on the agenda. One, a handwoven straw backpack with shell straps will be hand-finished in Los Angeles. A flagship item for the collection — a market basket laden in shells — has been aptly named, “She Sells Seashells,” in an ode to de Ravenel’s brand of high-brow resort humor.