Rachel Comey’s mid-century Milanese twist
Rachel Comey never set out to design jewellery. ‘It wasn’t a premeditated decision,’ explains the New York-based fashion designer. ‘It was an opportunity to introduce more colour and texture to a look.’ Several years ago, Comey decided to spend a month in Milan in order to visit the city’s various markets and textile mills for inspiration, when she stumbled upon a pair of vintage acrylic earrings. ‘They were just fabulous, large and very modern in shape, so I decided to have a go at making some myself,’ she says. Her costume jewellery – which is bold in shape, colour and scale – has played a prominent part in her ready-to-wear collections ever since.
For S/S 2018, Comey developed a capsule collection of earrings, each crafted from a mixture of natural and man-made materials, including wood, acetate, enamel and printed acrylics. While she insists that there’s ‘not one particular source,’ that inspired the line, the earrings possess an irreverent 1960s feel. Brass hoops intersect coloured acetate squares; acrylic semi-circles hang from a large oblong base; angular hoops cut from tortoiseshell-printed acetate appear precious and weighty. ‘It all stems from an impulse to play with proportion, colour and texture – the need to add a flash of tortoiseshell or lift brass with a hit of turquoise,’ she says. ‘Plus, I’ve always wanted an excuse to use enamel in my work.’
When designing, Comey maintains a constant dialogue with both her studio team and her most loyal customers. ‘I ask them what they want and desire from a piece of jewellery,’ she says. ‘At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.’