Anna Westerlund: A New Language for Jewellery

Anna Westerlund modelling her jewellery line

 
 
I am a seeker of genuine style. In people, as well as in brands. Brands made from passion and which conjure up that concept of value, craftsmanship, quality, storytelling. And when the two, people and brand, merge, inspiration abounds. In a time when marketers and mainstream brands thrive on the consumers’ fabricated desire for more, there are people who make things only by their own hand, remain true to their beliefs and style, and keep us grounded, making us aware that the only thing we care to (and which we should) project is our own selves.

Anna Westerlund is one of those stylish makers. She is a daily inspiration for me: through her beautiful handmade ceramics, through her being a wife and mother (of four!), though her drive, thoughtfulness, creativity and warmth which she somehow manages to transmit even if I haven’t yet met her in person. She harnersses that effortless, real beauty vibe that I’m always grasping for. Anna has been creating the most special ceramic objects that are meant to make people happy and bring joy to everyday life, so when she recently forayed into jewellery making, I had to find out more. Here is what Anna says about her new found language for jewellery.
 
 

Anna Westerlund jewellery | photos: Anna Westerlund Ceramics

 
 
What is your first memory of fashion, or better yet, style?
When I was a teenager I went to a quite conservative school and dressed a bit different than most of the students. I think it was at that time that I understood that clothes tell something about who wears them.

Is creating a jewellery line something you’ve wanted to do for a long time or is it something that only more recently you’ve shown interest in?
When I studied ceramics, I also studied jewellery making, so it is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but only recently I felt I found a language for jewellery that matched my ceramics.

Your pieces of jewellery are the most beautiful, delicate and unique ceramics accessories I have seen and they clearly reflect your designer vision I have appreciated for so long in your other creations. I guess the word I am looking for for best describing your jewelry is “individual” and that’s why I believe they speak so well to the modern woman. They are meant to be a tool for self-expression, but also a reflection of a life lived with intention. They seem created with the idea that they are not special-occasion jewellery, but jewellery you can wear everyday that becomes part of you, and I love that (the lucky charm I wear daily is proof of that). And I have the feeling they reflect your own personal style and lifestyle.
Thank you so much for these kind words! I have quite a simple personal style and love to wear an accessory that changes what I am wearing, and it is in that way that I think the jewellery collection reflects me. Like a pop of colour that brings out your style and changes everything (insert smile).

Speaking of colour, the colours you use are fabulous and they instantly put a smile on my face. They are meant to make the wearer happy, that’s my first thought. How do you choose the colours?
I love colours and to mix them together and see how different combinations work together. Ceramic is a material where you can not always mix colors as you can with normal paint, but it is exactly that that makes it more exciting.

Do you have any particular sources of inspiration for your jewellery?
I am addicted to beautiful magazines, they are a great inspiration for everything! But I also draw a lot and from drawings grow new combinations of forms.

Are you going to carry a permanent collection or will you create only limited edition pieces at certain intervals of time?
This is always my big question, because if I create only limited editions people are always asking for pieces I don´t have anymore. So I started doing both, a permanent collection with limited edition pieces.

Can you tell me a little about (together) concept store?
Together is a long time dream! It is an Anna Westerlund shop in the way that it is my shop, carrying all the collections, one off pieces and new ones that I am testing. It works a little bit like a scenery where I can test new ideas and having that permanent stage for my pieces is amazing. But at Together we mix my ceramics with other brands that I feel compliment my work and makes the experience of who visits us richer. I think it would be boring if it was just ceramics!
 
 

Anna Westerlund jewellery | photos: Anna Westerlund Ceramics

 

Website: annawesterlund.com / Instagram: @annawesterlundceramics
(together) by Anna Westerlund: @together_lisboa
Largo da Trindade, 17. 1200-466 Lisbon

 

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Agnès b.: Styliste

The book “Agnès b.: Styliste”

 
Agnès Troublé (the “b” of agnès b. comes from Agnès’ first husband, Christian Bourgois) is the second designer I greatly admire who likes to call herself a stylist, rather than fashion designer. Giorgio Armani is the other one. There are other similarities between them, like a passion for cinema. A designer who loves movies is not interested in the fleeting fashion, he/she is interested in making clothes that go beyond trends and the ephemerality. They are interested in people, people for whom clothes are part of their personality. Then, Agnès, too, did not follow the norm, went against the stream, never radical but always seeing forward, relaxing the men’s rigidness and breathing androgyny into the women’s line. She went for practicality, for fluidity and lightness, for sensual over sexy, for discrete over ostentatious, for subtlety over revealing everything.

Agnès b.: Styliste, by Florence Ben Sadoun, is not a fashion book. It is an intimate portrait of an artist, someone who has always been knowledgeable of and has always drawn inspiration from cinema, music, photography, the fine arts to make clothes. Such vast inspiration, so simple the clothes. Because sophistication is in simplicity. The more you know, the less you want to reveal through your appearance. The book is also a family album. Because Agnès has formed life-long relationships with so many creatives from so many artistic fields. Life itself and people and street style are her greatest inspiration. Leafing through its pages gives you the impression that it tells a well lived life, creatively and otherwise.

Agnès was named fashion editor at Elle Paris, after another editor, Anne Rivemale, had noticed her mix and match style at a dinner, she designed the T-shirts for the movie Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, William Klein’s satire about the fashion industry, and pink ski combinations for Jean-Claude Killy’s brand, worked at Cacharel, then opened her first store in 1975 and the brand agnès b. took flight in the 1980s. Snap cardigans, rider jackets, long t-shirt dresses, leather pants, stripes, polka dots, black and white, Rock ‘N’ RollIs Not Dead! prints season after season in white ink on white agnès b. t-shirts. Timeless style. Agnès b. is one of the most revered fashion brands worldwide, but Agnès’ creativity greatly expands beyond the world of fashion. She forayed into film, directing her first feature, Je m’appelle Hmmm…, in 2013, is a keen photographer, often imprinting her clothes with her own photos, owns exhibition places in Paris, New York and Hong Kong, has helped increase the patronage of film festivals such as the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes and The Sarajevo Film Festival after witnessing the atrocities of the war, and of film libraries in Paris and Tangier. Her pioneer spirit is relentless.

Her clothes have been worn by David Bowie, Patti Smith, Brian Molko, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, Harvey Keitel. She dressed Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, her suits were worn by the cast in Reservoir Dogs, she made John Travolta’s black jacket in Pulp Fiction, styled Jean-Pierre Léaud in many of his films, and printed the works of Dennis Hopper on her t-shirts. From the very beginning, in her shops, movie posters hung alongside clothes and music was playing on the turntable. She is a rock star, a poet, a storyteller, a free spirit, a dreamer, a maker. She has created her own universe and like-minded artists and people from around the world have found their place in it as well.

When David Bowie was wearing her clothes, including her signature Breton top, but no one knew it was agnès b., she didn’t tell anyone. She doesn’t like to advertise, she has never held a marketing meeting. She has done her own thing, always. That’s the definition of cool. She is above fashion.
 

 

”As stylist, the way to resist, in our own way, the standardization
and globalization in everything is to be, more than ever, ourselves!”

 

 

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Editors: A Playlist

Editors in concert in Dublin | photo: Isabel Thomas

 
They recently played in the opening of The Cure concert. After hearing them live, we went to buy all their albums and that’s all I’ve been playing since. I don’t feel every music I hear and I don’t stop to listen to every music, but in the case of the Editors, I do and I do. That’s all.
 

“There’s sugar on your soul
And your like no one I know
You’re the life of another world.
You swallow me whole
With just a mumble, hello.
And it breaks my heart to love you
It Breaks my heart to love you.”

(Sugar, from the album The Weight of Your Love)

 

 
 

1.Sugar / 2.A Ton of Love / 3.Marching Orders / 4.No Sound but the Wind / 5.Two Hearted Spider / 6.The Law / 7.Bird of Prey / 8.Papillon / 9.Ocean of Night / 10.Darkness at the Door / 11.Salvation / 12.Munich / 13.All the Kings / 14.An End Has a Start

 

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This Summer We’re Channelling: Billy Drago’s Armani White Suit in The Untouchables

“The Untouchables”, 1987 | Paramount Pictures
From the book “Giorgio Armani”

 
 
Movies shaped his imagination, his culture, his tastes. Giorgio Armani considers cinema has had a great role in shaping the man and the designer he is today. A visual world that has contributed a great deal to his own visual storytelling, to his sense of elegance and style and communication. Maybe that’s why Armani’s designs have always carried this narrative power, unlike any other fashion designer’s, waiting for the right man and woman to step into them and inhabit them. Even his preference of greys and neutral colours draws from his love of black and white movies. Just like the infinite shades of white and black of classic films invited to imagining a myriad of colours, Armani’s use of subtle nuances is a much more alluring invitation to discovering the person behind them than extravagant colours.

Mr. Giorgio Armani, in turn, gave back to cinema, leaving his mark on the world of film. More than that, “it is through cinema that I first reached the public and entered into the collective imagination.” He is referring, of course, to Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo and dressing Richard Gere for the part. Cinema has always been an intricate part of Armani’s designs. And maybe he understands film so well because, for him, clothes are more about attitude than shallow appearance, about the wearer’s personality that makes them come alive and desirable. Isn’t this why costume design is more enduring and far-reaching than catwalk fashion? It is the character the public usually wants to emulate.
 

“Cinema allows me to work with clothes in a way that
upholds my vision of style, in that I help to build a character.
It’s the kind of operation that, when it really works out well,
rewards you in the most satisfying of ways: eternity.”

 

Emporio Armani Spring/Summer 1989, photographed by Norman Watson
From the book “Giorgio Armani”

 
 
In The Untouchables (1987), Brian de Palma’s vision of the crime-ridden Windy City in the prohibition era, Billy Drago wears an Armani white linen suit and a Panama hat. He plays gangster Frank Nitti, and Billy said in an interview for The Void magazine that real Frank Nitti’s family, whom he got to meet during filming, “didn’t mind Frank being portrayed as such a villain; the legend is so big.” About his costume he said: “I wore a white suit in the movie because we thought of him as the angel of death.” That’s exactly what he is, and his clothes have this tremendous power to project that feeling, without too many words needed.

But, of course, being an Armani suit, it transcends the movie, the character, the symbolism, time. That’s the gift Giorgio Armani has given cinema and the public. It is a stand alone timeless piece. This is a man’s suit, but it works for women, too. Just a look at this Vogue Italia editorial photographed by David Bailey, or the Emporio Armani ad for Spring/Summer 1989, shot by Norman Watson (image above), and you’ll know what I mean. Because what better stands for Armani than the deconstruction of stereotypes, reinventing men’s and women’s fashion alike, creating a new kind of elegance, adapting his jacket to her body and dissolving its severe construction in a sensuous and powerful and harmonious line, freeing them from the rigidity of conventional dressing? “A less rigid allure to the male figure and a less mannered style to the female figure”, the kind of style that places a much higher importance to the “elegance of the gesture”, for the kind of man and woman who wear beautiful clothes with self-esteem and self-confidence, but never with pretentiousness.

And what better garment to prove this than Armani’s signature piece, the unstructured jacket, and, by extension, the suit? Following the line of the body without constraining it, conveying sensuality through the very fact that it falls so free on the human body, that it unveils without showing? Natural, instinctive elegance that enables free expression and a new order for the “power woman” and the “new man”. Giorgio Armani changed mentalities decades ago by changing fashion, and he did it subtly and more effectively than the rage and exhibitionism of today’s social media-induced movements ever could.

Quotes from the book Giorgio Armani
 
 
Related content: Style in Film: Richard Gere in American Gigolo / Natasha Richardson in The Comfort of Strangers: A Journey through the Armani Style of the 1990s / Mr. Giorgio Armani and That Simple T-shirt

 

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But Beautiful


 
“Jazz will never be music for a mass audience,” says Geoff Dyer in the book But Beautiful. That’s music to my ears.

The book – A Book About Jazz reads the subtitle – is not a mass product either. It is different, unlike any other music book I have read (I am not the biggest fan of tell-all memoirs and dry scholarly essays). Geoff Dyer writes beautifully in such a way that you can not tell where the reality ends and where the fiction begins. Because he takes real facts, and quotes, and photos (how uniquely he reads jazz photos), and, most importantly, the way he hears the music, and he composes his own images and dialogue of scenes from the lives of the jazz musicians he writes about. They appear not as they were, but as he saw them, as the author himself reveals. That’s the beauty of it. It takes imagination and ardor and improvisation and spontaneity to write like this. “Jazz was about making your own sound, finding a way to be different from everybody else.” Dyer applies the same principle to his creative non-fiction.

The portraits of the musicians he evokes – Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Art Pepper – are alive, intimate, lyrical, heartbreaking, and capture the spirit of jazz better than any academic work ever could. And the story about Duke Ellington and Harry Carney, which is not a separate chapter, but divided in a few parts, each part inserted between the other chapters, could very well stand alone as one of the best road trip short stories.

This is the kind of book that reads well in summer. It is by no means a summer read in the lighthearted sense usually associated with summer books. But it is by all means a book that you feel, that takes hold of you, that is happening, just like jazz, just like summer. If you don’t live it, summer is gone before you even know it. You have to make the most of every moment of summer, just as the jazz musicians are “in a state of constant creative alert”. The book is emotionally heavy, but also brimming with the enthusiasm of those musicians who lived for their art.
 
The film Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, directed by Sophie Huber, is out in the US now and will be playing at these selected theaters during the summer and the DVD will be released in September. The documentary tells the history of the legendary jazz record label, which also established itself from the very beginning as a symbol in jazz imagery. Huber also directed “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction”.
 
 
Related reading: M Train, by Patti Smith / Words of Sound / In His Own Words, by Morrissey

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