In the wake of Celine-gate, when the outcry over Hedi Slimane’s decimation of Phoebe Philo’s legacy generated probably more angry-mournful tweets than the last celebrity cheating scandal, everyone is now asking themselves: What next?
Everyone is looking to female designers to fill the Philo-shaped void in their hearts. And to seek refuge in the body-friendly, womanly sensibility of the former Celine director.
Now, people are turning to other female design voices and perspectives.
In the case of jewelry designer Paul Syjuco, he found himself inspired by the work of two women artists of the golden age of the Art Deco period: Suzanne Belperron and Coco Chanel.
Belperron’s work was lauded and worn by Diana Vreeland, Elsa Schiaparelli, Josephine Baker and Wallis Simpson. And though she was considered one of the leaders of the Art Deco movement, her work signified a shift in sensibility, evoking soft feminine lines instead of the strictly rendered geometric shapes Art Deco made popular.
An upcoming auction for Sotheby’s reveals a selection of Belperron pieces, including those owned by the Duchess of Windsor, which reveals that the designer’s design legacy lives today in the works of modern jewelers and designers.
“Even if these names are now established jewelry houses, at that time they were the rebels. Indeed, they were more progressive and innovative in vision,” Syjuco observes. “What astounds me as well is that they created pieces of the paradigm—big and bold—yet they still possessed this human and feminine aspect.”
In his latest collection, Muse, Syjuco takes a page out of Belperron’s book, utilizing sensuous curves contrasted against Art Deco’s signature rigid lines.
Syjuco’s collection consists of dynamic, hexagonal earrings featuring sapphires and emeralds surrounded by small diamonds, and statement necklaces featuring caliber-cut lapis lazuli or amethysts interspersed with rubellites and malachite.
There are delicate drop and tasseled jewelry to “emulate the fringed dresses of the time.” Highlights include animal-themed earrings, like gold turtles studded with chrome diopside and diamonds and sweet rabbit earrings crafted from rose-cut diamonds in white gold.
Gold dragonfly and butterfly (calling Mariah!) earrings add a whimsical element, though the entomological pieces are clearly hinged on vintage styles.
“Art Deco jewelry design is very distinct in form and formality, but I pay homage to the designers in that era, particularly, the bijoutiers-artistes or the more innovative, radical jewelers that emerged. They emphasized creativity and design, using gemstones in a sculptural way and carving them into various geometric art works,” he says.
Syjuco, who traveled to India in the past year, found himself taking from the experience and other travels, utilizing color and texture in new ways.
“Each piece is really very personal for me, a collection of my experiences. I approach every piece as a sculpture,” he says. “There has to be an unusual quality to it. Color, shape, texture or cut. Sometimes even history.” Make that “herstory.”
The collection will be launched on Oct. 9-13 at Aum by Paul Syjuco, The Peninsula Manila (tel. 09052192948), Oct . 16-20 at Aum Trinoma (tel. 0927-6603247).