Florence, Italy–Erotica, passion and nostalgia of her island homeland all influence Bliss Lau’s jewelry and jewelry-worn-as-garments collections. BACOLuxury caught up with the Hawaiian-born designer and pioneer of the body chain in Florence at the Pitti W presentation of the capsule collection she designed for SeeMe, a fair trade organization that empowers abused women by employing them as artisans in Tunisia and Turkey.
In an interview with BACO’s Editor-in-Chief Sofia Celeste, Lau talks about wearable art:
BACO: What inspired you start designing such futuristic pieces like body chains?
Bliss: In many ways I feel that jewelry chose me. I studied apparel design at Parsons the New School for Design, upon graduation I launched an eponymous collection of leather handbags. I found designing a utilitarian product such as a handbag to be very confining creatively. One night for fun I took the chain from my handbag and draped a bodychain on my model form. In 2007, I relaunched my brand as a jewelry collection and in 2013 transitioned into fine jewelry.
BACO: What is jewelry to you?
Bliss: Ultimately my goal was to answer the question: What is jewelry? In doing so I changed the face of how people perceive jewelry as worn on the body. In 2007, when I launched a full collection of body chains, it was the first anyone had seen. I experienced tremendous pushback from buyers and stores claimed ‘nobody would buy that.’
It took me four seasons before I was able to get the collection into a store, meanwhile the buyers themselves were placing personal orders! It has been quite a journey through this process, people have a tendency to resist newness.
BACO: You are from Hawaii. How is your island style incorporated into your designs and appealing on a global level?
Bliss: My Hawaii inspiration is somewhat abstracted. To me Hawaii represents a kind of individual freedom: the ocean, the sky and the fact that you can participate in the natural elements of life there unlike any other place. Freedom of movement is a core part of my design. I realize now that this has manifested itself in all of my design styles from the Kaleidoscope ring to the Fibonacci Collection of gowns and body chains.
BACO: What materials do you use normally and where do you source your gold and gems geographically?
BLISS: I chose stones that represent different moments in the day through color and light. This is another inspiration from Hawaii. Sunstones such as the Vikings Compass or Oregon Sunstone, conflict free colorless diamonds are important parts of the collection, as well as stones that represent darkness such as Onyx and Black Diamond. A study of this darkness can be seen in my MORNINGNOONNIGHT photoshoot by Julian Hibbard.
BACO: Where are your pieces made and can you tell us a little bit more about the artisans that make them?
Bliss: I make everything in the USA. My artisans are on both coasts, both LA and NYC have incredible craftsmen and women.
WHO: BLISS LAU
AVERAGE PRICE: Prices range from $150 – $600 for silver pieces and $1200 and up for gold pieces.
HEADQUARTERS: 125 Maiden Lane Suite 201 NYC 10038