Androgynous with her baby face, Pamela Love embodies Brooklyn to perfection. She has the soul of an artist, she has tatoos all over her body and has always been fascinated by astronomy and botanics.
The fluidity in her gesture and the speech rate she uses to talk is without argue one of a true New Yorker/ Brooklyner. Although her film training pushed her away from gold and diamonds, destiny chose otherwise. Having Carine Roitfeld (ex- Chief Editor of the French Vogue) and her daughter Julia Restoin-Roitfeld as brand ambassadors helped Pamela Love in dragging attention towards her jewelry brand. She ended up collaborating with TopShop and JCrew to develop capsule jewelry collections inspired by modern mystical urbanism. Slightly hyper… we managed to sit down with Pamela Love in between her meetings in the alleys of the Las Vegas Couture Show.
When did you start your brand?
I started my brand in 2007 with some basic sterling silver pieces. Then in 2014 I launched Pamela Love Fine campaign, which attracted a lot of attention.
Your jewelry boasts that effortless and casually elegant style so typical of l.a. how does a new yorker get away with that?
I know, it’s amazing! Most people actually think I am from LA and are surprised to know I was born-and-raised in Brooklyn. I guess it has to do with me growing up in Florida, which is another sunny state. You can’t help but adopt some of that laid-back, chilled way of doing things without all the pressure inherent to the big city.
How do you come up with such strong designs for your collections?
It’s important for us to work throughout the year to be able to experiment with different shapes, materials and stones. This gives us plenty of time to see what works and what doesn’t long before it’s time to unveil another collection. At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and experimenting creatively really…
No strategy then?
No, we’re very organic about how we do fine jewelry. With the sterling silver line we tried to be a bit more organized, so we did a spring-summer, autumn-winter schedule, but for the Fine campaign we work a little bit differently with retailers. We work based on an inspiration, approach the stores and show them the finished products to see if they will strike a chord with them. Everything happens more natural that way.
Do you really divide the designs from fine to sterling?
There are some pieces that carry over but we’re really trying to differentiate the lines, much more now, so with the exception of the 5-spike earring, this one that has been signature to the brand since 2008, we really are trying to have the designs for the fine jewelry line and the designs for sterling to be different, and now they almost completely are.
The 5-spike earring: an accident that made your signature?
It was literally like an accident. And no one was doing ear jacket at the time, that term was not even a term. It was a fortunate accident. I came up with the name when I was younger and we were making these really edgy designs of little necklaces that had one spike hanging from a skull. So you had one little skull and he had a spike hanging from him, since we needed to cast a lot of spikes at the same time, we made this little tree in order to cast 5 spikes at a time then added turquoise and 18 carat gold. And then I was like – “This would look really nice coming from behind my ear!”.
Do you want to talk about your obsession with skulls?
Every designer goes through the ‘skull’ phase, I think. I still loved skull jewelry today but I try to vary my pieces more now…
Do you make jewelry for special orders?
Of course! A lot of the celebrities custom order some of the pieces and a good designer is always thinking of ways to personalize a model in a way that speaks to the wearer on a molecular level. Jewelry is the natural continuation of the style and personality of whoever is wearing it. For me, it is the material essence of how we view the world and how we want the world to view us.
Do you specifically select your models to reflect those qualities?
I like my models with a bit of personality, yes. But to be honest, it is easy for designers these days… everyone in the industry is young with a porcelain complexion that make them look like dolls. Virtually anything you create will look good against their pale skin and slender frames. Then again, I like the way fashion designers have started diversifying their model base recently. Life is not black and white and jewelry, above anything else, is about celebrating diversity.
Is it fair to say that you have ‘arrived’ at your destination then? Are you where you pictured yourself to be?
If only this were true! We have accomplished so much and for that I am deeply grateful but a designer needs to constantly challenge, reinvent and push her-self creatively. Otherwise you fall into oblivion. My ‘big break’ was a fortunate accident as no one was doing linear jackets at the time but I need to replicate that success if I want the brand to become a name in the industry.
Do you find the market to be saturated and difficult for new brands to break into?
Yes, it’s hard to step back and be like “Wow, I’ve built this brand, we have a book, we have such a loyal following, so I am done”. I sell to some of the best stores in the world, and feel very happy about this. It is something I accomplished for myself, without the connections or inheritance money that we often see propelling people’s careers and this, on its own, is something to be proud of.
Remind us how did you get into jewelry?
I have always loved jewelry! I guess on some level I have always known, yes. Even when as a little girl my family moved from New York to Florida. I would spend my time coming up with my own designs and making jewelry for myself and my family and friends. Years later when I was studying at the NYU and jewelry-making was nothing more than a hobby, a friend of my boyfriend who owned a boutique in Vancouver suggested she displayed some of my pieces. I agreed and next thing I know – Olivia Kim from Opening Ceremony saw my pieces on the store owner and contacted me. The rest is history.