When London-based jewelry designer Dominic Jones got a call telling him that Anna Wintour was en route to preview his first collection in 2008, he was in bed. "I walked in five minutes before she did," he says. "She paused and looked at my work and my lookbook, which was styled by Katie Shillingford. And she really liked it. She even took off her sunglasses. Everyone freaked out."
And why wouldn't they? Jones's debut collection of punk-tinged black, silver, rose and white gold jewellery also snagged the attention of the British Fashion Council NEWGEN, who awarded the designer sponsorship his first season. And even more exciting, Rihanna and Beyoncé, both of whom wore his knuckle dusters and black leather gloves with gold fingernails, have been fans since the start.
However, the 26-year-old Buckinghamshire native's relationship with sculptural baubles began long before the superstars took notice. "When I was little, I used to love going through my grandma's jewelry box. And my grandfather was a woodcarver. I'd always watch him work and he'd occasionally let me do bits and pieces, so I think that's why I enjoy the ‘making' side of things," explains the designer.
Jones moved to London to study traditional jewellery making at Sir John Cass School of Art and Design. "Although I have traditional training, I'm not the most traditional maker. I'm sure if a fine jeweller watched me work, they'd be appalled. But I manage to muddle through and work things out in my own ways."
His friends help him to manage, too. He's forever grateful for his supportive pals, like long-term BFF Florence Welch, for whom he commissioned bespoke earrings for the Met ball, as well as model-cum-rocker Alice Dellal, who, in addition to being his business partner, was in the room when Jones created his very first piece. "Alice saw my knuckle duster, pulled it off my hand, and wouldn't give it back to me until I made her one. And Florence I've known since I was 17. I love her to pieces and I'm incredibly proud of what she's done."
Along with Jones's other muses, like the new music duo The Alpines, who will be playing a set at Jones's presentation on the 18th, Cara Delevingne and Tallulah Harlech, Dellal, and Welch will star in a film of the designer's jewellery. Directed by Raphael Diallo, the short will debut alongside the designer's collection this week.
This season, Jones was inspired by Gothic cathedrals and monuments from former Soviet Russia. His influences are apparent in his carved gold rings with ornate spikes that shoot up the fingers, as well as geometric bangles and a layered gold choker shaped like a jagged seashell. Jones also continues his experimentation with semi-precious stones, using striated straw quartz and red garnet in drop-spike necklaces and organic rings. But no matter how dainty his stones may look, Jones retains his punk roots. "I'm evolving each season, but it's always about these elegant forms mixed with punky, aggressive undertones. I think you have to have a little bit of punk in your heart to want to wear my stuff."