Posted on

A talk with Ryan Storer: Blurring the lines between Costume and Fine jewelry

A growing segment of the costume jewelry industry has been successfully redefining what fashion jewelry actually is or could be. Combining precious plating with luxurious components, Australian designer Ryan Storer is part of the few how have explored these boundaries with a creative style that sets him miles away from his jewelry colleagues.

London-based, for The Eye of Jewelry and awaiting the publication of his new book on luxury jewelry later this year, Olivier Dupon author of The New Artisans (2011), The New Jewelers (2012) and The New Artisans (2015) had the priviledge to sit down with Ryan Storer. The two man discussed about the success of the Autralian designer and what made him who he is today.

A growing segment of the costume jewelry industry has been successfully redefining what fashion jewelry actually is or could be. Combining precious plating with luxurious components, these new costume pieces have adopted an inherent preciousness that had long been the dividing border between what one considers ‘fine’ or not; yet at the same time, they retain an undeniable casual chicness and affordability usually most attached to costume jewelry. Australian designer, Ryan Storer is one of the few trendsetters (a denomination he is too humble to admit), who is exploring (and more often than not, breaking) these boundaries, and in his case, with a creative style that sets him miles away from his colleagues.

Ryan’s work is a fine balancing act that challenges the simplicity of the shapes, as organic curves appear to be suspended in the air, like stylized question marks. In addition, it seems Ryan’s pieces have a reptilian or liana quality about them: they sensually punctuate, twist or wrap around one’s limb, while Swarovski baguette or studs strategically add texture and interrupt the smooth linearity.

Officially set up in 2013, Ryan Storer’s business has been an exciting and sometimes challenging learning curve for its founder (‘there was a lot to take in, a huge amount to learn in a very short time’, he says). It was all worth it, as testified by the many accolades (Vogue Italia as part of their “Vogue Talents” exhibition invited Ryan to Milan, where he could meet many game changers from the industry; Anna Wintour in person told Ryan his jewelry was beautiful) and strong retailers’ interest (Browns London, Bergdorf Goodman, I.T Hong Kong/China, Joyce, On Pedder, Tsum-Moscow and: online at Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi).

HOW DID YOU BECOME A JEWELRY DESIGNER?

I initially studied fine arts. My career in jewelry really started with an accessory manufacturer in Sydney (both leather goods and costume jewelry). It was actually owned by my uncle, and already from a very early age, I remember being fascinated with everything, each time we would visit the factory. It was such an incredible introduction to everything I love; I initially worked in the leather department learning from an amazing Italian artisan, who designed the handbags. He was incredibly strict and traditional in his approach, which often caused arguments, but in the end he taught me so much. Being around people, who can craft something with their hands was such a gift, as it has really reinforced my belief that mastering a trade and a skill is essential. Subsequently I have had a lot of experience with different brands and companies. From there, I joined some part time courses in Australia, but really I am self-taught when it comes to jewlery making. It gradually became a massive passion and to this day, I still enjoy learning new techniques and expanding my knowledge. At the moment, I am into understanding lapidary, which is quite exciting. I love learning new aspects of the trade, regardless of whether or not I will actually apply them to production. However each time, I get incredibly involved and immersed in whatever my mind is set to learn.

 

WHAT MAKES YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN?

For me, it means freedom. It has allowed me to express myself in what I love for a living, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to even say that. It is what continues to drive me each season. My own hands make everything I do, which is very important to me. I need to feel what I am creating, in other words, have a physical connection to it.

 

WOULD YOU AGREE THAT YOUR CREATIONS DEFINE A KIND OF HIGH-END COSTUME JEWELRY?

Definitely, I think now the gap between high-end costume and fine jewelry has closed a little. While there is still mostly a big divide, I think there is a huge area in the market where the lines seem to merge.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE WORLD OF FASHION IN YOUR WORK?

It is something I try to consider when working on collections, however I never let it guide me heavily. I think the beauty of jewelry comes from a very specific place within each designer, and there is a personal handwriting in each style that can’t (or shouldn’t) be replicated. So for me, this is part of what makes jewelry such a personal item for both the designer and the wearer alike.

WHICH PART OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?

The initial stages, when I’m coming up with concepts and new ideas, are the most exciting. I often cannot finish one piece, as I get over stimulated and excited. So I need it all to come out – jumping from one piece to the other -, and once that phase is over, a clear direction appears. The initial phase is a sort of distraction I love to indulge in.

Beside I cannot follow rules. It often means I have to take the harder road to get where I need to go, but it is my process and I don’t know whether I would be able to do what I do conforming to a purely traditional one.

 

IS THERE ANYTHING IN YOUR DESIGNS THAT MAKE THEM QUINTESSENTIALLY AUSTRALIAN?

I think a lot of my designs have a minimal and easy-to-wear approach, which is very Australian; there is a very cool paired-back feel in Australian design that is represented in a lot of what I do. As for my inspiration, it literally comes from everywhere. I find details in everything and I then apply them to jewelry. As an example, I have been looking at 50’s lighting, specifically Italian pendant lights. There was such an art in making a light globe look elegant, making sure the proportions were always beautifully. This is especially appropriate for my work, now that I am working with pearls for my current project.

 

WHAT IS IN THE PIPELINE?

I have some collaborations coming up at the end of the year, which will showcase some very different things from the brand. I am very excited by the idea of interpreting other people’s ideas as a collaborative project. Surely it is challenging, and this is what I love.

To take a look at Ryan Storer’s full collection and website please visit the following website: http://ryanstorer.com. His prices range from $80 to $780 roughly and his pieces are set with Swarovski crystals.