Earthly Treasures and Paris’ Street Poets

There is depth in the aesthetic pond of Parisian talent, as many accessories designers showed these past weeks in the fine craftsmanship, material research, and witty edge that ensured their latest collections made their mark for Spring ’14. As a veritable crossroads of fashion culture, Paris remains unique in the incredible variety of creative minds it attracts, as well as the tastemakers employed to discover them. Each comes peddling their own visual agenda, inviting us into their universes wholeheartedly—be it bright and bubbly, or a darker place of pensive symbolism.

Having spent his childhood wandering the rainforests, it’s no wonder the work of Brazilian designer Danilo Ferreira has the raw, pagan feel that it does. He’s called his line of semiprecious rings and pendants Sagrado—Portuguese for “sacred”—and rendered them in a heady mix of French antler, smoky quartz, petrified wood, and cast silver, mimicking the structures of large crystals. Ferreira’s mythology extends throughout, with rings allowed energy flow thanks to their open, Omega (Ω) shape, and a luxurious balance of rough and smooth surfaces exhibited in each piece. With an undoubtedly masculine edge, the designs hold a commanding presence and will be sure to find their place amongst the artfully draped wardrobes of avant-garde disciples the world over.

Swiss talent Nora Renaud is also a hands-on silversmith; however, her label Adal takes a somewhat less adorned approach—working heavy masses of solid silver into delicate twists and folds that toe the line between sculpture and wearable art. Shying away from conventional jewelry archetypes, Renaud’s spontaneous designs border on the weird and wonderful, with a leaf-like collar strapped in humble cotton and a curled, horn-like tiara her strongest offerings. A recent collaboration with Canadian designer Nicolas Andreas Taralis saw her craft graphic, spiked halos for his winter ’13 runway, proving her romantic, organic style harbors a latent punk spirit.

Another misfit breaking the mold is Belgian shoe designer Mats Rombaut, whose years spent behind the scenes at Lanvin and Damir Doma have given birth to Rombaut, reputedly Paris’ first truly directional, vegan footwear label. Rombaut has sourced tree bark from Uganda, natural latex from the Amazon, and organic cotton canvas to craft his derbies and combat boots for women and men, with Spring ’14 seeing the introduction of an ankle boot with a sculpted wooden heel. It’s a rarity to find such a pointed balance of style and global conscience today, so there’s no wonder Rombaut is causing a stir in green fashion circles. Eco or not, we’re pretty taken with his pastel pink and baby blue wrap-around high-tops—all the better to pound the pavement in (protesting or otherwise).

Perhaps a little less street-savvy, and certainly not vegan, were Zana Bayne’s fetishistic corset creations, which she exhibited in the hothouse atmosphere of a florist in the 11th district. After several seasons, the New York-based autodidact has finally harnessed (if you will) the full potential of her laced and buckled structures, fashioning intricate skirts, bra tops, face masks, and climbing bracelets out of nude, aubergine, and black leathers. Bayne was inspired by the idea of “the vine as nature’s bondage.” Looking specifically at the wisteria vines of Lake Como in Italy, she managed to soften the surgical lines with an unexpected flourish of folded leather blooms.

Parisian tomboy Marie Marot launched her second season of small leather goods and knitted beanies in a blue mood, evolving the philosophical wordplay of her debut season (all in black) to a seaside palette of electric blue and sand. A few artfully placed brackets have turned her zipped pouches, tote bags, and cardholders into instant cult items, their cherrywood plaques engraved with puns like “(SEA)SON”, “HE(ART)”, “POE(TRY)” and “PSY(CHIC)”. The collection’s authentic feel and healthy dose of hipster credibility has not gone unnoticed, with Marc Jacobs’ Bookmarc stores commissioning a limited edition run of products. His choice of pun was a rather timely and dramatic one, given recent events: L(OVER).