Category Archives: Wacky Tacky

Iris Apfel: My Muse

Iris Apfel4Oh man, I am utterly smitten and inspired by Iris Apfel. Her snappy sense of humor, daring fashion sense, and dedication to being her authentic self make her a role model for fashionistas and makers alike.

I recently watched the documentary, IRIS, that delves into her life – it was a spectacular visual cacophony… She pairs bright patterns, sparkly gemstones, and tribal prints in her daily wardrobe. Iris is a prime example of how people can be walking pedestals for artwork; that we are all living artworks. Considering that what I’m currently working on uses low budget materials, I especially appreciate that she primarily collects costume jewelry.

Since watching the documentary, I’ve found myself wondering ‘What Would Iris Do?‘ when I’m stumped in my studio. If you’d like to learn more about Iris Apfel, you can watch her documentary here.

Iris Apfel5 Iris Apfel3 Iris Apfel1 Iris Apfel2

Superfly Caddis Fly Larvae

French artist Hubert Duprat has made many types of sculptures over the past few decades, but these gilded caddisfly casings are my favorites. I love these tiny gilt insect homes.

Caddisflies live in streams and ponds and protect themselves by spinning silk with debris found along lake bottoms. They use any small bits available to make their sheaths, be it sand, bone bits, shell, plant material, etc.

French artist Hubert Duprat moved some of the caddisfly larvae into a home aquarium, and provided them with only gold, jewels, and semi-precious stones to build their sheaths. The materials used includes gold spangles, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, pearls, opals, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and coral.

The Queen of Versailles

I recently watched an interesting documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles,’ which focuses on a Floridian billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their quest to build the largest house in America.

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.27.16 PM

The intent of the movie was about the couples conspicuous consumption: Jackie and David Siegel were building a 90,000 square foot palace in the image of the original Versailles.

The film opens prior to the economic crisis while construction on the house is in full swing. The wastefulness, chaotic tackiness, and unabashed gluttony of the Siegel family is on display. But, the documentary is also witness to the shift that occurs as a result of the financial crisis. Credit dries up. Siegel’s timeshare business, which relies on cheap credit, begins to flounder. Versailles falls into disrepair. The family begins to crack. “This is almost like a riches-to-rages story,” Siegel tells the camera.

The film is an amazing portrait of a hyper-opulent version of the american dream, and the ridiculously wealthy (and crazy) family that fuels it. The juxtaposition of the Siegel’s wealth in an increasingly desolate environment was inspiring to me. Their dreams became a plastic mirage, something that they could only see but never reach.

Basically, you really should see this movie!

Queen of Versailles, Jackie SiegelJackie Siegel poses with her daughters and dog in front of their private jet

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.31.50 PMA sea of golden accessories

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 12.54.47 PMThe Siegel family limo takes a trip through the drive-in

Screen shotJackie’s pet dog meets her stuffed dog

ScreenAn amazing fantasy portrait of Jackie and David Siegel

Live Action Haute Mess

If you’re prone to seizures, you probably shouldn’t view this post. This past spring, my Pro Nailz knuckle dusters were featured in a Vogue Italia editorial. The article  has garnered a lot of attention for being a controversial photo shoot. The concept of saturated extravagance has been articulated through gender bending women sporting candy wrapper weaves,  cupcakes, and pounds of jewelry. This issue has been very difficult to get ahold of in the states, but I found these GIFs to share. To me, the models are combination of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and New York City club kids.

You can seem y rings being prominently displayed by the Guinevere, in the middle GIF.

Haute Mess, Abbey Lee Kershaw by Steven Meisel


Haute Mess, Guinevere van Seenus by Steven Meisel


Haute Mess, Joan Smalls by Steven Meisel

Amazing Diamond Rings…

The Hope Diamond’s got nothing on these rings… Care of Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp Market, you could be the happiest girl in the world. By my estimation, each diamond weighs in at about 5 thousand karats… those are some seriously large rocks! I can’t believe that the vendor isn’t afraid of these tempting babies getting stolen. Customs requires international travelers to make claims on any purchase over 350euro, so I had to refrain from buying one, but I just had to take some pictures to remember what I passed up on.

That Chain So Crazy!

Note: I’ve been working on this blog post for quite a while now, and I’m honestly not sure it’s going to make any sense, so good luck reading!

One of my favorite things about jewelry is it’s role as a communication device which turns the wearer into a billboard expressing the wearers beliefs. Traditionally, jewelry also doubles as a portable asset or an outward display of wealth.
Jewelry in excess is nothing new in the world of hip hop, think back to the iconic images of RUN DMC wearing twisted gold chains, with oversized pendants. Since they first stepped onto the scene in 1984, RUN DMC helped to create an image that has influence generations of musicians after them. It’s been over 25 years since the pioneer of hip hop artists donning opulent gold chains, diamonds, pendants, watches, and other oversized baubles and the jewelry is becoming bigger, brighter, and more expensive.

Today, chains and pendants are becoming so large that they are almost unwearable. Artists are layering them in a melee of gold and glitz. Some things haven’t changed at all, like NAS’s necklace at the right, he could have reached back in time and taken it right off of Jam Master Jay’s neck. But, some things are evolving at a rapid pace. Gone are the days of sporting a stolen Mercedes hood ornament on a chain around your neck as pendants are growing larger and encrusted in colored pave set diamonds.
I have to say that I really do appreciate this hyper-opulence that is being embraced by the hip hop culture. It’s steeped in history (from acknowledging previous hip hop and rap artists to embracing African cultures), and at the same time there is a drastic over-the-top-ness that is so obscene that I can’t do anything but to embrace it. I think that there is a silent understanding that some of these pieces are completely tongue-in-cheek, like the huge dollar sign pendant that Nigo is sporting below… It’s completely a redundant piece (joke?) that is made of money, about money.
I often find myself thinking about menswear jewelry, and what it’s role in society is. The examples in this post are just one facet of that genre.. and such an eye catching, mouth watering facet it is! For more examples of gold, diamonds, and other examples of urban jewelry, be sure to check out one of my new favorite blogs: YOU SEE THAT CHAIN?
Nigo, wearing multiple pave chains and pendants.

Pharrell, Diamond pave pendants and multiple chains.

Lil Wayne, Diamond Grill

Kanye West, Horus Necklace by Ambush

Kanye West, Eye Am Not Alone Ring by Ambush

Soulja Boy, The Work Is Yours Necklace

Soulja Boy

David LaChapelle

I’ve been away from my studio for a bit, and have been spending more time ‘doing research.’ Maybe I’m trying to justify my growing obsession with pop-culture, but I find myself recently attracted to highly saturated images and colors, high gloss, sparkly jewels, gold and diamond encrusted medallions, and just really extravagant objects and imagery. I’m not quite sure what it is about these stereotyped displays of wealth and culture that I find to enticing, but there is something about how these commercial goods and images so bluntly stroke my sensibilities and entice my inner consumer.

On a recent trip around the Internet, I came across this imaged by David LaChapelle. I have really always liked his use of hyper-saturated colors, and the high sheen that everything in his images seem to have. His subjects become plasticy objects, and everything is equalized into a glossy visual melee. Bordering on pop-grotesgue, he creates images that are visual cacophonies which seem to be suspended from time and place.

Davids imagery has the ability to transform even the classiest subject into an objectified commodity. The people in his photographs uncannily seem to lose their identity and morph into anonymous objects that could almost be mass produced.