As New Yorkers, we’re used to shielding ourselves in jackets and trenches, layers and lace-up boots, creating our own mini-bubble to protect us from both the climate and population. When she couldn’t find suitable accessories to go with her minimalist outfits, Manhattan-based Sandee Shin (pictured at left) took this idea to its literal conclusion and created A(r)mor, a handmade collection of chainmail-like jewelry.
At first glance, A(r)mor seems complicated and forbidding. But, the delicate pewter chains and gentle curves move with the body, emphasizing feminine forms like shoulders, neck lines, and breast plates. The meeting of the tough and the exquisite is Shin’s goal, as her collection’s title is a portmanteau of amor and armor. “The jewelry is more avant-garde. You don’t just toss it on, you have to put it on carefully and deliberately, like you are cherishing it. If you have something you love, you defend it,” Shin explains, offering her items as a type of defensive-wear for lovers.
Only a year and a half old, A(r)mor is busy, as luxury lingerie boutique Kiki de Montparnasse is one of Shin’s biggest retailers, and high-end indie shop Alibi has asked her to design exclusive products. She claims her Ume piece (pictured), which acts as a short necklace, branching off to a shoulder cuff, is her most popular, but the bustier-like bodice of Loo is unforgettably dramatic. For 2011, Shin reveals, she is doing a winter line. “Some of it might be a little more risqué,” she admits, “Items you might wear under a jacket or blouse and are surprised to see when your clothing is removed.” Also planned are belts and earrings, and more elaborate body pieces.
Though the difficulty factor is something she acknowledges–this isn’t jewelry wearers just hang around themselves–she suggests A(r)mor is ultimately a personalized experience. Each piece comes with an ‘instruction manual’ (a first for jewelry, we think), but all of her accessories are made to order, taking size and metal type into consideration. As any urban dweller would agree, walking the line between protection and style is our forté, and spikes and studs simply don’t cut it anymore.