Before opening Fenton in Fall 2005, Dana Lorenz worked for Gucci and Donna Karan. She took a break, before casually making jewelry, which struck up a fortuitous collaboration with Cloak. Just three years later, her jewelry retails at Barneys, Ikram, Linda Dresner, Lane Crawford, and Harvey Nichols, among other retailers worldwide. Stephanie Seymour took notice, and sat down with the young designer to ask a few questions.
Stephanie Seymour: How did you get started?
Dana Lorenz: Designing jewelry was always a personal endeavor for me until Alexander Plohkov of Cloak asked me to design a small men's assortment for his show. A Vogue story and a Barneys order later, and I was in business.
SS: If you weren't designing jewelry, what would you be doing?
DL: My friends and I always laugh that maybe we'll leave it all behind and go open a Holistic Dog Spa or make organic soaps in Vermont, but to be successful at it. Like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom.
SS: What is your most unexpected inspiration?
DL: Everytime I see something inspiring I don't expect it.
SS: Favorite materials to use?
DL: Solid brass is great because of its weight and wear and value. I'm trying to plate a lot less because of the impact on the environment so we are working with heat and natural ways to tarnish and oxidize metal. I found a great source for vintage lucite and crystals from Germany who keeps an eye out for me. If I like what she's pulled I buy the whole lot-using up surplus materials that already exist in the world. It's the only way I feel good about achieving a look that's "excess" without being excessive.
SS: What are some of the most offbeat ideas in your work?
DL: I think maybe my whole approach is offbeat. I mix unexpected themes and materials and colors and textures, yes... but more than that is the humor in the work and the strong reference. If you ask about the design of a necklace I'm probably not going to tell you about its weight in gold or the soldering techniques I use. I'll probably tell you it's inspired by Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral and the jean jackets I used to bleach and destroy in my parents basement.
SS: Favorite movie?
DL: I am a movie freak-please don't do this to me! Ordinary People, Spellbound, Silkwood, Working Girl, The War of the Roses...but I can watch Overboard with Goldie Hawn whenever, wherever.
SS: Has it ever inspired a collection?
DL: No but it should, and probably will...
SS: What is your first memory of being a creative person?
DL: Probably my insane obsession with my box of 64 crayons with the sharpener at the back, and the demon that emerged if anyone got near them. I'm not sure if OCD was even diagnosable then. But I used to line up all of the crayons by color and sharpen them to match exactly in length and point and perfectly groom the paper casing. That was serious business.
SS: What recurring themes from your childhood come up in your work?
DL: Preppie will always be underlying because of how I grew up. I used to watch Dynasty and Falcon Crest with my mother and thought I was so grown up and sophisticated. And looking back I realize what an impact MTV and Friday Night Videos had on my style and the collection...all of a sudden music was visual. Watching old Madonna, Duran Duran and George Michael videos now you can see how that imagery defined the style of that time. I think if you reference times of childhood and growing up and people connect to it they REALLY connect.
SS: What will 2009 bring for you?
DL: As much as 2008 has been billed as the 2nd coming of the Great Depression, this year has been my best year to date....I'd like for the business to continue to grow again in 2009. And with that maybe a vacation?
SS: Where do you want to be in 5 years?
DL: Here in NYC, hopefully they won't turn my 100 yr old apartment building in Little Italy into a Duane Reade...and opening a NYC FENTON/FALLON flagship.
SS: What was the first moment that you realized you were on your way to being a successful jewelry designer?
DL: Being asked to design necklaces for Proenza Schouler, getting a call from Anna Wintour's office about sending up items for xmas gifts...being interviewed by you for Interview!
SS: If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be?
DL: Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton are always surprising and refreshing to see.
SS: Dream collaborator?
DL: Christophe Decarnin's Balmain strikes a serious chord with me...I remember when I was in Paris in October calling Ikram Goldman of Ikram and saying "you wanted to know what I was feeling for Spring 2009? You attended the Balmain show, right?" I have a feeling if Christophe and I met with our shoeboxes full of inspiration, we'd be pulling out the same clippings...
SS: Favorite fashion trend?
DL: Of all time? I know I'm supposed to say something like "statement jewelry", "stacked bangles" or "studs" but it's going have to be menswear or le smoking.