Today’s interview is with Alicia Hannah Naomi – artist and jewelry designer. Alicia has a very clean, modern style which I’ve always admired – architectural shapes, draping, and black, black, black! She’s also an enormously talented designer, with a line of jewelry that perfectly reflects her aesthetics and style. Enjoy meeting Alicia!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Alicia, I’m from Australia and I’m an emerging jewellery designer/maker.
You live in Melbourne, Australia. Can you describe some unique aspects you’ve observed about local style there? How does your style fit in?
Everyone pegs Melbourne as being the city where everyone wears black. I think because Melbourne is darker and often gloomier than the other Australian cities, and also because there’s a strong art community and you know, anyone involved with art wears black. It’s true though – it’s an age divide and there was probably once a time when yes – everyone did wear black. If you’re older and in the community you still do. Dramatic, avant-garde, artistic black.
But the truth is that Melbourne’s young indie creative scene has exploded in the last 5-10 years, and that means there’s more colour around than you can poke a stick at. It’s all fresh and quirky and playful and COLOURFUL and somehow nobody seems to be acknowledging that it’s taking over.
But you know I’m here, wishing I were one of those fabulous older women quirky haircut wearing all the Yohji Yamamoto. Because I am actually all about the black. Which would be perfect if everyone in my generation weren’t fighting against it – and winning.
Can you describe some more about your style? What are some words that you’d use to describe your aesthetic?
I would say I have a penchant for dark style, but I do find it really difficult to describe. I kind of chop up a lot of the different dark sub-genres… a little deconstructed, a bit minimalist, there’s a slightly feminine lean (because it can be quite androgynous)… not really grungy or witchy, though. I feel like it’s too easy to become a caricature with those two sub-genres unless you really own them and I don’t. I know — I’ve tried.
You describe your wardrobe as a “capsule wardrobe” – minimalist in quantity and style. Can you describe more about this concept, and how you choose to limit your number of items?
It’s become something I feel – no rules, no limits, just an inherent awareness of what I own, what I need, and what my budget is. If I try something on and then put it back more than a few times I know that item is not meant for my wardrobe. It’s instantly rejected – why is it there taking up good space? I loved it once, I love it still – usually it’s a fit issue. Sometimes it’s practicality. As I make these mistakes I become smarter about what I bring into my wardrobe again.
I read something once that spoke about dressing for the person you want to be. I find that incredibly grounding. I want my style to say something about who I am – so I have to be fussy when I shop in order to maintain that stylistic identity. It helps me cut the wheat from the chaff.
What are some of your absolutely favorite items in your wardrobe?
Without hesitation I would say my Rick Owens biker jacket. I coveted that jacket for years – I bought several different “inspired” versions – none of them made me happy. I knew I’d never be satisfied until I owned the real thing so I buckled down and saved hard. It was a very hefty investment but I haven’t regretted it for a moment.
What is a lesson about style and building the perfect wardrobe that you could share?
Oh there are so many.
– Don’t buy things you already have plenty of. Work out what you need and concentrate on filling gaps.
– Just because you find something, you like it, it’s affordable to your budget – doesn’t mean you have to purchase it. You’ll be surprised how many things you buy that you don’t need just because it takes your fancy, and how many things you’d be just as happy to live without if you didn’t buy it.
– Don’t settle. If there’s something you really want and can’t afford, don’t buy the closest thing to sate your desire. Wait. Save up. Half the time you wait long enough and you realised it was just lust and you don’t want it anymore anyway. The other half is when it’s true love and you’re happier you waited to get the real thing. Because you’ll never be satisfied with second-best, ever.
– If you find you wear some kind of thing really frequently then it’s also worth investing in the best quality version of it. Maybe it’s denim, or maybe ankle boots. If you were them constantly it’s worth investing in the best you can afford.
You recently launched your own line of silver jewelry. How did you get started down this path?
I’ve been working with and around fine jewellery since 2003, including making my own costume jewellery for a number of years. Finally after becoming frustrated that I couldn’t properly express myself with pre-made components – I realised the next step was to go back to study and become a qualified jeweller with all of the traditional silversmithing skills I needed to work the raw materials themselves into the pieces I’d designed in my head.
What have been some of your favorite pieces that you’ve made – and why are they your favorites?
The very first sterling silver ring I ever made, I wear every day. It’s a very chunky, molten looking band – perfectly imperfect. It was such a surprising success for me, because I don’t think I really knew what I was doing. And I don’t think I could ever make it again because now I know too much and I’d overthink it.
Can you describe a little bit about the process of creating jewelry? I’e always thought it looks terribly difficult!
No it’s not easy when you start and know nothing – but isn’t it true of most new things? It’s not so difficult when you have practised, but when it comes to jewellery you’re never not learning.
There are a lot of different approaches to making jewellery – lost wax casting is an ancient jewellery technique that I use 80% of the time, which involves creating a mould from a wax model. Molten metal is then poured directly into the mould and this is how the jewellery item is formed. The remaining amount of time I work with silver sheet and silver wire, hammers, saws, files, a variety of special tools to manipulate the precious metal into rings, earrings and other jewellery. The metal goes through many processes including being cut out, bent, heated up, soldered, bathed in acids, filed and polished.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I’m a big music fan, I love progressive, doom and drone metal. For me dark music syncs in perfect harmony with my dark style. I try to go to see a lot of live gigs when my schedule permits.
And finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
People are always surprised when I tell them that I can’t ride a bicycle. I’ve tried many times over the years but I just never got the hang of balancing myself on one. The phrase “It’s like riding a bike” is completely lost on me.
I love Alicia’s aesthetic, it’s how I dress in my cool girl dreams. And I very much appreciated the story behind her Rick Owens jacket – I agree, it’s better to simply save for the special item you want, you’ll cherish it all the more! Thank you to the lovely Alicia for being here today, and for more of her, please visit her site- Sea of Ghosts.