Blackbird Jewelry has launched their new collection ‘Occult’, and we were lucky enough to attend their launch party – falling madly in love with every. single. piece. The idea behind the event was inspired: having some of the strongest women they know create personal vignettes of heirlooms and favourite fashions on the walls of OZ studios. Adorned with one of their highly coveted necklaces from the new line,of course.
After speaking with the beautiful imaginations behind this brand, we new we needed to hear more from the designers and co-founders, Regan Hayes and Vanessa Marino.
U: Occult is your third collection following Amour and Skin Walker. Can you tell me about each collection, and what your inspiration behind each of them was?
R & V: Skinwalker came from Navajo folklore, which these mystical beings could transform into an animal by wearing its pelt. We thought this was such a dark and yet beautiful concept. The collection consisted of rope, chain, porcupine quills, rhinestone, quartz, and of course acrylic, which we use in every collection.The Armour collection came from the idea of strong woman. A woman is powerful and yet her armour is so beautiful and intricate.This collection was very acrylic heavy, mixed with gunmetal chain and hematite stones.The current collection, Occult, was inspired by the idea of a magical woman. We always have little trinkets around for luck, or for a greater purpose. So, we loved looking into the world of witchcraft, fortunetellers and mystics.They are traditionally over adorned, but each piece is worn with a purpose to either ward off an evil, or bring in light.
U: You are both trained in fashion – what was it about jewellery that made you decide to create it?
R & V: We were making clothing and working in different areas of the fashion trade in Toronto. As much as we loved fashion, clothing and creating – it wasn’t fulfilling us. At this point we had tray upon trays of costume jewelry between the two of us, and it just seemed like a natural fit. We both love accessories, and it just blossomed from there.
U: If you had to choose, what is your favourite material to work with?
R & V: We work a lot with acrylic (and heavy chain). The acrylic allows each piece to take on a very strong geometric shape with is a major part of our aesthetic; creating pieces that are juxtaposed between hard and soft lines, masculine and feminine aesthetics with old and new values. The acrylic is fun because it’s so lightweight but is such a statement.
U: When brainstorming, are you ladies usually on the same page creatively?
R: We laugh at the fact that we can be twins when it comes to creative work. That being said, the way I interpret a theme, and the way Vanessa interprets it can be two very different things. But that’s what makes the partnership work.
U: Can you give us a taste of your design process? Starting from the beginning of your idea to the physical piece.
R & V: We’re both very tactile and like to have everything physically in front of us before designing. This can be a bit hard and backwards,from what designers normally do. We start to throw back and forth what’s inspiring us, we then make a mood board of images, poems, materials – anything.After this we head to our suppliers, get little samples, sit in the studio and mess around with it. A few pieces will be thought of beforehand, but a good chunk comes from seeing how things drape from the body, how it falls on a wrist. One of us might start something and then say “ok, let’s switch. I’m tapped out on this piece, I don’t know where to go from here.” And then we go back and forth.
U: If you both had to choose separately, what would be your favourite piece rom all three of your collections?
R:Skinwalker – Gold Heart Necklace or Moonshine Necklace .Armour – Guillotine Earrings or Brave Necklace. Occult – That’s hard! It’s new … I actually really like it all, but the Enchantress Necklace, The Evil Eye Necklace, The Fates Necklace… I can’t choose!
V:My current favourite piece is the Alchemist necklace, which I barely take off.
U: At your Occult launch party you both created individual vignettes to go along with one of your necklaces from the collection. Why did you choose those particular necklaces? Also, how would you describe your individual styles?
R:The high priestess necklace is such a showstopper. We wanted to show how each of us would wear it. My style is a little all over the place depending on what mood I’m in that day. Typically I will throw on a boxy sweater and jeans with a statement necklace or earrings. However, I have a very feminine bohemian side to me – things can get fringy pretty quickly. If I could live life in a pair of great jeans,a kimono jacket and some great leather boots, I’d be pretty happy.
V:As Regan said, we wanted to show how each of us would style the same piece. Down to the different colour choice of the piece. My style is somewhat moody and monochromatic. I tend to stick to pieces that are classic and well fitting but original.
U: During the creation of Occult, did you ever feel anything spooky or witchy?
R: Actually, when setting up for our launch party, the power went out all up the street. We had all these candles set up, so we lit all of them. We turned to each other and made a joke that we might have stirred something up with the spirits!
U: Are either of you ladies believers in healing stones, tarot cards, etc.?
R: I collected quartz as a child and had boxes full of them. This was more about digging in the dirt and discovering pretty stones than superstitions. When I learned that they meant something I was even crazier about them. Vanessa has knowledge of healing stones, symbols and tarot cards. I typically go to her to ask questions about such things.
V:I am a very superstitious person; I carry trinkets for luck and wish on stars. I often consult the cards or interpret a dream for guidance, or to better understand a situation or problem I may be having. My mother exposed us to these sorts of things at a very young age. Since then, I have been entranced by the unity that each of us has with the universe, and the mystic power within and around us.
To see more from this powerful duo; check them out at www.iheartblackbird.com