There’s more to menswear than suits and ties. Every other Monday, we’re giving the fastest developing facet of fashion the attention it deserves and introducing the designers, buyers, trendsetters, and stylists you need to know.
This summer at London Collections: Men, Solange Azagury-Partridge launched her first men’s jewelry collection, assertively titled ALPHA. But the designer is not interested in creating pieces for super-macho men. (If she were, she probably wouldn’t be designing men’s jewelry.) In the film that she commissioned to launch the collection, she cast Mark Ruffalo, who, while famous for his rugged good looks, is not brutish. The film sees him in a moment of quiet contemplation after a night out, gradually taking off his black-tie garb and eventually settling on the couch in a soft pink bathrobe.
There’s not a lot of action, but there’s enough to get a sense of the subtle gender play in Azagury-Partridge’s collection. In a nod to the different clichés of masculinity that men don, she’s given her new styles names like Villain, Caveman, Stud, and Peacock. One ring, also named Alpha, has the word “mum” written across it, like a playful, detachable alternative to the traditional big-red-heart bicep tattoo.
Azagury-Partridge, who previously worked at haute joaillerie house Boucheron, has a lot of experience making uniquely covetable women’s jewels under her own name (a few of them were spotted on Beyoncé this summer). We got in touch to her about her newest venture.
DESIGNER: Solange Azagury-Partridge
BASED IN: London
TRADEMARKS: The use of color in gemstones and using enamel and lacquer. The use of black gold to make the metal disappear and the color pop. The use of rose- and old-cut diamonds and gemstones. The love of inclusions in stones. Also the use of symbolism and geometry. The evolution of my inspirations has evolved with my knowledge and experience. Things are constantly changing and developing, but essentially the spirit of my jewelry has always been that of freedom, joy, and beauty.
FIRST LOVE: [The first thing I ever designed] was my engagement ring, a domed bombe with an uncut diamond protruding from one side, which was now 27 years ago. The first piece of men’s jewelry I ever designed was the “Muz” ring, as a signet ring, for my husband Murray (or Muz) on our 10th wedding anniversary, which is quite a long time ago now.
FAMILY JEWELS: Men and women have always worn jewelry throughout history. The amount they wear ebbs and flows, and men’s jewelry seem to be flowing at the moment. The function stays the same: to adorn, to express strength and power, to protect and impress, etc. These things don’t change.
LONDON CALLING: It’s my home and I’m really lucky ’cause it’s a fabulous place to live—the parks, the museums, the architecture, my friends, my family—London has a really human element. It’s a city unlike any other in its urban landscaping, which makes it lovely to live here.
ON MARK RUFFALO & MOVIE-MAKING: Mark Ruffalo is a very appealing guy. Both men and women love him. I always like to portray my collections in a way that isn’t static, and part of telling this little story was to show how a guy can actually wear quite a lot of jewelry without seeming to. Gender politics are part of everyone’s life, and this film plays with that. My films are always a “friends and family” production—everyone’s a friend or a member of my family and gets involved at some level creatively, so it’s always fun.
FUTURE OF MENSWEAR: I think men’s fashion has become very globalized and a lot more present and influential. New York’s Williamsburg and London’s East End styles are traveling across the world. I think eventually it will become like womenswear in that there’ll be something for every kind of guy out there, that they’ll be able to express themselves in a way that suits them 100%.
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