KICKGEM WITH ALEXANDRA DRUZHININ EMERGING JEWELLERY DESIGNER
The series of KickGem interviews with brilliant women and men who are about to dazzle the jewellery world with their exceptional talent and creativity. I handpick the best of emerging jewellery designers you need to know about!
Name: Alexandra Druzhinin
Alma Mater: MA Fashion Artefact at London College of Fashion(LCF), BA Fashion Jewellery at LCF, Goldsmithing at Damas Jewellery Academy, Dubai, GEM Lab at GIA, Dubai
Occupation: Creative Visionaire & Jewellery designer
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
LOCATION OF THE INTERVIEW… I love London, I’ve lived here for over 20 years and it is my home. Over the years when I got a bit claustrophobic, I went to live somewhere else but always came back here. I am a total foodie so always choose venues with a quality food, some of my favorites are Yashin Ocean House for their proper Japanese sushi, yummy Coya for food, margaritas and lively atmosphere and Atelier by Joelle Robuchon. I always go to Saatchi Gallery, V&A and Wellcome Collection these places never fail to inspire me. I used to go to college in east London so I always come back to Bethnal Green and Shoreditch.
IN THE BEGINNING… I come from an artistic family, and my mum has been making jewellery for over 25 years. But for me it was not until 2008, living in Dubai that I decided to leave my banking career and concentrate on jewellery making.
MA FASHION ARTEFACT… I wanted to bring all my designing and making skills to a higher level of expertise, and chose MA Fashion Artefact because it allows you to create a collection of any fashion related items rather then just jewellery. The course is also taught by some fantastic and talented people and their guidance was very valuable.
LONDON DEBUT… Making a headpiece which was used to advertise the ART of Dress Exhibition, which toured the world and was exhibited at St.James’s Palace in London. BA graduate collection has won an ‘OFF CATWALK’ award at LCF and was displayed at Future Map Design Exhibition at LCC. The necklace from this collection was worn by soprano singer Laura Wright at the Fashion Matters Gala. I was selected to participate in Triumph Makers Collective Campaign which involved modeling lingerie accessorised with my own jewellery and running jewellery making workshops for the Campaign. Being featured in ELLE UK was also a highlight.
In 2012 a fashion designer Fyodor Golan commissioned me to create a collection of silver and gold nose rings and brass insects which was shown at London Fashion Week AW2012 as part of their fashion collection.
BINARY STATES…‘Binary States’ is in part a response to the contemporary culture of fashion consumption, which values the quick turnover of ‘season’ pieces, at the expense of items which wearers may treasure and keep for life. With this collection, I intend to address the insatiable appetites of consumers by artefacts which act as more than simple necklaces or handbags. By introducing a playfulness through manual manipulation, the pieces in ‘Binary States’ invite wearers to adjust the artefact’s appearance to the season, the time of day and their disposition. The variety of fashion applications suggested presents versatility. For example, the wearer could use the closed version of a piece to accessorise her work outfit, suggesting simplicity and professionalism, and then make the piece colourful, playful and evening-ready by simply opening it.
The collection is made using the innovative technologies such as 3D printing, CNC milling and laser-cutting. The use of materials such as metal was dictated by the functionality of the component, however I also chose exotic hard woods in their original colours to retain the aura of traditional crafting. Some components such as berries, flowers and animals were sculpted, hand painted and glazed.
ART DECO OR RUSSIAN FOLK… Artistically, I tend to gravitate towards clean, architectural designs, yet always offset this simplicity with a touch of colour, playfulness and opulence. The juxtaposition of rigid, geometric forms and organic, fluid shapes is a central concern of my work, and is articulated through this collection. The two design aesthetics used to represent the halves of this binary are Art Deco architecture and traditional Russian Folk craft. I was always fascinated by New York’s skyscrapers of 1920-30 era so translating the elements in to my designs was simply a matter of time. Even though I do not live in Russia, I found that I always draw on its rich cultural heritage, for this collection I was inspired by Khokhloma and Zhostovo.
POWER COMES FROM… Knowledge
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL… I tend to mix everything, I buy pieces from Topshop but also from Chanel. I often get stopped on a street for what I am wearing, either by people wanting to know where my clothes are from or by street styling photographers. Sometimes I may be asked where my skirt is from, and I may be actually wearing 3 skirts styled in my own way, and one may be by vintage Chanel, another is a high-street store tutu serving me as an underskirt, and all topped up with a Marni peplum. The last item I bough was a mini Chanel caviar vernis bag in bright blue, I wear it every day now.
ONLINE SHOPPING… Rarely, only when my size or colour only available online.
GEM STYLE… I used to own and wear a lot of jewellery, but paradoxically as a jewellery designer now I wear very little jewellery.
FIRST JEWELLERY… I was always fascinated by adornments of all kinds and as a child used to make myself earrings and hair accessories out of copper wire and beads. I sometimes wear small gem bead bracelets because I believe in healing crystals.
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY… I own few Cartier sets which I chose long time ago for their colouring and craftsmanship, but I found that nowadays I almost never wear fine jewellery , yet still love it.
PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING… My engagement ring is from Chopard with a beautiful heart shaped prong setting – this is the best for me.
ROLEX OR CARTIER… I don’t wear watch.
MEN JEWELLERY… Anything they like.
FINE JEWELLERY… Anything aesthetically pleasing.
VINTAGE JEWELLERY… There are some very beautiful pieces out there.
FASHION JEWELLERY… For me wearing jewellery is the way to express oneself. I always gravitate towards large, skillfully made and tasteful pieces.
PERFECT GETAWAY… I fell in love with Japan last year, this is one place I always want to come back to. Maldives and Oman for diving and relaxation.
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE… High heels and red lipstick.
WILD WISH… To live in the moment at all times.
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 Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla.
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