Matthew 'Mateo' Harris might not be a household name in the fashion world yet, but that may just be down to a matter of time. Since setting up his eponymous jewellery label in 2011 at age 26, the young designer has enjoyed significant success with his popular men's collections, which combine utilitarian, urban motifs like screws, nails and mechanical wheels, with a wearable everyday nonchalance.
For spring 2015, the Jamaican-born Harris has made a distinct departure from his wheelhouse to launch his first women's collection, 'La Barre'. Elegant, discreet and refined, the debut range is predominantly comprised of slender gold bars that Harris has turned into delicate rings, bracelets and earrings. Decorated with tiny diamonds or with similarly thin rectangles of onyx and malachite, each piece exudes a distinct architectural quality.
'This collection started from one simple gold bar. I made a bracelet for myself, one thin gold bar bracelet. I wanted to make something minimal and clean. It’s chic, timeless and something you can wear everyday,' says Harris of his handmade pieces. 'I want to make affordable jewellery for my age group.'
Working on the women's collection allowed Harris to reassess his creative point of view. Now aged 29, the designer has consciously veered away from the statement motifs of Mateo's men's range, despite its continued success, and enjoys focusing on finer details. In the women's range, thin gold collar necklaces are finished with fine gold chains that hang seductively past the collarbone, while sculptural T-bar and parallel bar rings catch the eye with their subtle detail.
What makes Mateo's covetable pieces even more impressive is that Harris is completely self-taught. After moving from Jamaica to the United States at age 16 for his studies, and falling into modelling for a time, he worked in sales and marketing at a jewellery gallery in New York City when he had his light bulb moment. He explains, 'I realised that I actually liked this jewellery business, so I went to 47th Street [in Manhattan’s jewellery district], bought a sketchpad, bought wax, my tools and started to carve and design.'
At the moment, the designer is finessing his pre-fall 2015 collection, which boasts sculpted cage-like forms inspired by the architecture of Norman Foster (with which Harris quip he is 'obsessed'). It also uses the changing colours of autumnal foliage as another creative starting point. With collections timed to follow the fashion runway calendar, we’d recommend keeping a close eye on Mateo and all the surprises it has in store.