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Women Making History: Bliss Lau

Bliss Lau’s unique designs blur the lines between garment and accessory. After creating handbags and studying apparel design at Parsons School of Design in New York City, she has entered into the world of fashion with her beautifully distinct and rare body-jewelry pieces. She talked to us about using traditional techniques, her favorite mediums, and the challenges of her career:

1. What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

I have a fantastic crew of New York Women who I find inspirational, and some of them I work with, for example, my teaching partner at Parsons the New School for Design, Jasmine Takanikos is a weekly inspiration to me. Each week, she gives a lecture on creativity, colour or visionaries and I am always amazed at how one woman can inspire creativity to so many with her images and charisma.
Diane Pernet and her whole staff are also super inspirational, I love their aesthetic and all of them are so kind, every time I go to Paris I appreciate their vision more.

2. How did you get your start creating jewelry?

I used to design handbags, but I studied apparel. One day I had some extra handbag chain and was procrastinating on ‘real work’, I decided to try draping on the form with the chain and created the Tuxedo. I suppose it all changed that day because soon after I launched the jewelry collection!

3. Many of your pieces blur the line between jewelry and apparel. How did you start making these kinds of pieces?

I think it takes some artists a long time to find their voice. I am a slow creative spirit, it takes me a very long time to develop an idea or learn to work with a new material (because we make everything ourselves!). After working with leather as a bag designer, and studying apparel, I combined all of the craftsmanship and skills in the jewelry collection.
I recently realized the reason I love working with leather, because it’s like wood, it used to be alive.

4. How does the design process for each collection begin?

I can not define a method to the creative process. I find inspiration from learning about new or very old manufacturing techniques. This season I have traveled through the East Coast to find Industrial-Era factories that are still in business to work with. Do you know what a metal stamping is? My collection consists of a variety of kaleidoscope-inspired shapes that are created using a ‘stamping’ technique, and each shape I dug out of a bin of unused shapes, The company I work with does mostly military insignia, and it actually makes some detective badges for a few states!
So sometimes inspiration comes from odd places!

5. You’ve worked with a wide array of materials including leather and metal. Is there a material you have not yet worked with that you want to try out?

I currently prefer to work with subtractive metal techniques, but soon I hope to work with some additive techniques. Whiting and Davis is an amazing company, do you remember your grandmothers old Whiting and Davis mesh purses? I have a ton of them, well they make metal mesh which is on my list of new materials to experience….

6. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry that you’ve created?

I don’t choose favorites. But I have a few ‘feelings’ that recent pieces give me. I love the heavier chain pieces that have weight on the back neck, it’s comforting for some reason! I also love the hand pieces. In my new web-shop I decided to organize the jewelry by body-part, since I design each item to ornament a different part of the body. My favorite piece each day depends on where I want to draw the attention… it’s usually the chest!

7. Who do you want to collaborate with or see wearing your jewelry?

In Paris I would love to collaborate with Givenchy, I really love Ricardo Tisci’s aesthetic. The white dress collection was exquisite.

8. What part of designing jewelry is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?

Ohhh on the contrary! Designing is the fun part, but would you mind running my errands for me? The hardest part is putting it aside to do all of the other things involved in an independent designers day.

9. Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career in jewelry design?

You only get one chance to launch. Take your time, go to the Library, research the history of jewelry, learn about trends, and spend the precious moments before you launch to gather your creative voice. Please only do it if you love it!

Bliss Lau’s website.
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @blisslau

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