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Three Chicago fashion designers expand into jewelry design

We highlight accessories from Banner Year, Elmidae and Lara Miller.

 (Photograph: Damien Thompson)
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Photograph: Damien Thompson

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Photograph: Damien Thompson

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Photograph: Damien Thompson

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Photograph: Damien Thompson

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Photograph: Damien Thompson

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Photograph: Damien Thompson

Lara Miller
Originally known for
Her namesake brand, an ecofriendly, often modular line of womenswear made from fabrics such as recycled cotton, bamboo, hemp and vegan silk
Why jewelry?
“By the end of 2009, I started noticing there were a lot of people interested in the line but who couldn’t afford to buy into it,” Miller explains. “I started playing around with knitting these longer chains, connecting them to some of the sweaters, and immediately realized I don’t have to connect them to the sweaters…. The impetus [to start selling them separately] was when I was getting ready for the [ecofriendly] shows in New York. We had a feature on Oprah.com, and the women who came by were like ‘These are great,’ encouraging me not to attach all of them. That sparked the whole thing.”
The line
Miller started selling the chains as an accessory to be worn as a belt or a necklace in spring 2010. They’re available in two styles, made from recycled cotton or bamboo (she’s planning a linen version next spring): the single-stranded Dylan ($30) and the multistranded Thome ($52 or $60, depending on fabric). Both are available in about 50 colors. Place a custom order through her website, laramiller.net, or pick one up at Cerato Boutique (3451 N Southport Ave, 773-248-8604, ceratoboutique.com).


Abigail Glaum-Lathbury
Originally known for
Her eponymous line and now for Elmidae: architectural, detail-oriented womenswear designs
Why jewelry?
“I like building things in general: building furniture, building clothing, building cakes. So I started tinkering with the jewelry [last summer],” Glaum-Lathbury says. “It’s a different process. But it also has many similarities. It’s a slightly more hard sculpture than the soft sculpture of clothing.” Using a grab bag of materials her interns gathered from a daylong field trip to thrift stores around the city, Glaum-Lathbury started toying around with the collagelike process of designing jewelry. She made a few pieces for Nick Cave’s pop-up shop last summer and eventually integrated jewelry into her collection. “[Making jewelry is] a little more of an instant-gratification process.”
The line
Between the silk fabric, geometric shapes, brass tubing and chains, the spring collection’s six necklace styles have airy, shiny, manufactured qualities to them. Partially inspired by the Russian Constructivist movement, the pieces each have names such as the Sveta ($198), an asymmetrical chain with three rotating, counterbalanced brass bars. Find them at elmidae.com and p.45 (1643 N Damen Ave, 773-862-4523, p45.com).


Jeffrey Millbern
Originally known for
Banner Year, a line of vintage-inspired womenswear that had a short run of production in 2008
Why jewelry?
“No profound reason, but I just had never done it before,” Millbern says. “I was looking for another creative way to make something wearable.” Millbern is supplementing the jewelry line with simple garments such as rayon blouses and cotton shirts.
The line
Collaborating with friend and woodworker Josh Hines, Millbern’s just-launched line under the Banner Year name combines repetitive, geometric-shaped pieces of exotic wood (ebony and cocobolo, to name a few) mixed with new and vintage chains. About 20 pieces in total, the collection includes bolo ties, rings, necklaces and pins priced from $30–$125. “It’s all mostly based on triangles and diamond shapes,” Millbern says. “I’ve always been inspired by ethnic shapes, reworking [them] and [making] them into tangible, wearable things.” They’re available at Dovetail (1452 W Chicago Ave, 312-243-3100, dovetailchicago.com).

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