IRADJ MOINI, JEWELRY DESIGNER OF THE MONTH NYC

New York, the city of artists, fashion and culture, and I only have 48 hours to explore! This is the kind of travel I love – jewellery discoveries that whisk me off around the globe to meet some of the most inspiring designers in the world. Today, you’re in luck because I’m on my way to meet Iradj Moini, an extraordinary artist who used to design catwalk jewellery for Oscar de la Renta before branching out onto his own:

Throughout my artistic career, I have been inspired by Yves Saint Laurent and his collection, even at architecture school! Although then, I was also fascinated by Gaudi, since his architectural creations were about art, structure, colour, juxtaposition ~ Iradj Moini.

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There are 12 people working in my workshop in New York. I take new people in when they have no experience; they do not know anything about jewellery design, so I can teach them everything I know.

SHOP THE LOOK:

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On my way to Iradj Moini’s workshop in Manhattan, I strolled past Bryant Park and I remembered my days as a student at GIA. So many good memories came flooding back to me now, including my first encounter with Iradj Moini’s jewellery at Bergdorf Goodman. Amongst 50  jewellery designers on the ground floor, Iradj Moini’s statement jewellery caught my attention, and I was immediately enchanted.

 

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I have only been working with costume jewellery, using mostly natural stones and sometimes glass, which is not as rich as stones and hence does not look as good! ~ Iradj Moini

Costume jewellery and this magical workshop was such an adventure. I was taken by Iradj’s creative personality and freedom of spirit. He loves being in control of his designs and free to create whatever he likes. He told me:

I make the jewellery the way I like, for myself rather than for others, and if people like it, then excellent!

I’m so honoured to have had this opportunity to meet such an artistic genius as Iradj. His name has been on my mind and indeed, in conversations since my first encounter at Barneys. So you can imagine how brimming with excitement I was to finally come face to face with the man…and his cat!

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It is much more fun to design and wear costume jewellery, since it does not cost a fortune like fine jewellery.

What an impressive collection – so many sumptuous designs to show you and every one of them goes perfectly with my Whistles dress and Missoni shoes.

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Although my jewellery is “fake” rather than fine, the feeling behind it is authentic ~ Iradj Moini.

These jewels are so affordable (prices start at $1,200) yet hard to find, as Iradj is loved by so many. And many of those people, like Barbara Berger, collect his magnificent creations. She owns something like 1,000 of his pieces.

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Barbara Berger has a huge collection of jewellery, and she has about one thousand of my pieces. She has exhibited her vast collection in Mexico City, Barcelona, at the Louvre in Paris and at the New York Museum of Art and Design. And even though she has more than 10,000 pieces of jewellery, she only wears fashion jewellery and not fine!

Frighteningly beautiful, these striking rings simply vibrate with colour. You can see why Iradj’s jewellery is so sought after the world over. And to think it may never have happened. Instead of studying fashion, as he wanted, he followed his parents’ wishes and went to university for architecture.

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My mother has always been a big influence on me, since she is an artist, a painter, and she has always made me learn about art. Unfortunately, my parents never approved of my interest in fashion. I was growing up in the in Middle East; fashion was no man’s job. It is very different from the West. It was a different world, a different time.

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Iradj feels right at home in New York:

I love New York, since here you can do everything and anything you want.

And that includes dressing your cat in the finest fashion jewellery!

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I can be more experimental with costume jewellery, since I do not have to worry about the costs so much.

Iradj has been designing jewellery for 25 years, and launched his first collection in 1989. After a show in 1990, he was introduced to Oscar de la Renta and designed his first collection for him that same year.

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Shortly afterwards, he started showing in Paris, which was a great success for him, and also for me, because people seemed to really like my jewellery. I worked with Oscar for 10 years as a jewellery designer for his catwalk shows, from 1990 to 2000. For the first few years, he would sell my jewellery as part of clothes, almost like detachable embroidery.

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Iradj continues to find inspiration from these early years with Oscar de la Renta, and has worked with other designers including, Bill Blass and Jeffrey B. But the largest influence on his work will always be Yves Saint Laurent:

Before you start a new collection, you have to clear your mind of all the previous thinking. When I create my designs, I think that I am working for Yves Saint Laurent. For my new designs, I go to Saint Laurent archives for inspiration. Although he passed a while back, his clothes are classic and timeless.

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Over the years, Iradj has continued to study Yves Saint Laurent and his ideology towards design:

He said that design and style never change, only the materials do. You look at Saint Laurent clothes from 40, 50 years ago, and they still look good and contemporary. Similar to Saint Laurent, my jewellery does not change, only the materials change.

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When I make a piece, I want to tell a story. His clothes were about life, they glorified a woman. Each woman has such presence, and he wanted to cherish that!

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One of the extraordinary things about Iradj is that he is self-taught:

I learn jewellery design all by myself. I suppose having an architecture background helps you think a little differently about jewellery design. Each piece is a construction.

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The time and craftsmanship that goes into each piece is incredible:

Everything from my line is handmade in my workshop, and many of the pieces are difficult to produce.

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When I am looking for a stone, I ask after its provenance, as I am always looking for the best base materials.

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I first have to find the stone, and then I will think about the design for it.

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Iradj has been working on his own design collections for the past 15 years. You can find his creations in specialty stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods and Liberty’s.
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I make what I cannot buy! In fact, I do not wear jewellery, but then I can try it on if I feel like it.

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Like my own global jewellery discoveries, Iradj says:

Every new jewellery design I come up with is like a new exciting discovery for me.

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I love the playful, colourful nature of Iradj’s designs. So fun to wear.
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These creatures seem to have a life all of their own, like bejewelled beasts in an enchanted garden
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The symmetry and artistry in his pieces, together with the blend of colours, is so rich and luxurious. You feel as though you’re wearing precious gemstones.
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What was it that Iradj said about finding the perfect stone. These beauties create a wonderful harmony together.
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You can see the architectural influence in this piece.
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Each creation is so unique, yet so revealing of Iradj’s creative genius.
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 Every piece tells a story and evokes a different emotion to suit your mood.
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This piece is so classic in design, yet so modern. I feel like a rock star!
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Soft and feminine, yet ornate and lavishly decadent.
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Notice how each wing of this gorgeous butterfly is subtly different from the other, and how the centre stone stands out from the rest, not for its size but for its extraordinary hue.
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This feline is becoming quite the jewellery connoiseur.

 

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I saved my favourite piece for last. This opulent lapis lazuli bracelet, weighing in at 1 kilogram, feels wonderful on the wrist and is a pleasure to wear.
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I can’t think of a better way to spend 48 hours in NYC than in the presence of such a brilliant man. What a pleasure it was meeting Iradj Moini. A dream come true!

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GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Gustavo Medeiros. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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