Zoe & Mor­gan de­signer Zoe Wil­liams sheds light on the brand’s lat­est jew­ellery col­lec­tion and re­flects on her keys to busi­ness suc­cess

Fashion Quarterly - - Profile -

As a tem­pest rages in cen­tral Auck­land on a freez­ing cold win­ter’s day, Zoe & Mor­gan’s City Works De­pot flag­ship is more than a port in a storm. Warm, light-filled and with the jew­ellery brand’s new con­tem­po­rary col­lec­tion

‘Palace of the Sun’ on dis­play, it’s easy to feel trans­ported to far­away, sun-soaked lo­cales.

Sev­eral are rel­e­vant to their new story. Sri Lanka, Brazil and Thai­land, for a start, where most of the col­lec­tion’s semi-pre­cious stones have been sourced. The jew­els range from the de­lib­er­ately mis­matched as­sort­ment of or­ange and yel­low sap­phires, ru­bies, emer­alds and cit­rine set in the matte gold-plated discs of the Ris­ing Sun ear­rings, to the Libyan desert glass that fea­tures in the lim­ited-edi­tion Sun Burst ear­rings, of which only 25 pairs have been made.

“We of­ten have an item with a lim­ited run, be­cause it’s fun as a jew­eller to work with lim­ited quan­ti­ties. And a lot of re­ally in­ter­est­ing stones and ma­te­ri­als only come in small quan­ti­ties,” ex­plains Zoe Wil­liams, the 38-year-old de­signer and co-owner of the brand she founded with her brother and sis­ter, Mor­gan and Ruth Sib­bald, in 2005.

Based in Auck­land, Bali and Lon­don re­spec­tively, Zoe, Mor­gan and Ruth con­cep­tu­alise their twice-yearly col­lec­tions to­gether, al­ways be­gin­ning with an ex­otic des­ti­na­tion they thor­oughly re­search to gather de­sign ref­er­ences, then travel to once sam­ples have been cre­ated in or­der to shoot cam­paign im­agery. Zoe says the idea is to show­case the fin­ished pieces against the (usu­ally ar­chi­tec­tural) de­sign el­e­ments that served as their in­spi­ra­tion. “It’s a way of [al­low­ing] our cus­tomers to see the door­way that in­spired the ring they’re wear­ing.”

‘Palace of the Sun’ cel­e­brates In­dia, in a fol­low-up to au­tumn/win­ter 2017’s ‘Palace of the Moon’, which reimag­ined the sa­cred geom­e­try of tra­di­tional In­dian de­sign.

The col­lec­tion marks the first time the brand has pro­duced a two-part story, as op­posed to the­mat­i­cally sep­a­rate col­lec­tions. “There were just too many ideas to put into one,” says Zoe.

Af­ter 12 years in busi­ness, the cre­ative well is far from run­ning dry. “We’ve made 400 of ev­ery­thing at this stage, so peo­ple are al­ways like, ‘Surely you’ve run out of ideas?’ But the op­po­site is true. The more you learn, the more you re­alise there is to do. And it’s ex­cit­ing!”

Un­like its lu­nar-fo­cused sib­ling, ‘Palace of the Sun’ is a so­lar homage. “Our lives are de­fined by the sun — it brings life to our world and gives us our con­cept of time,” says Zoe. “[The sun’s] rays sym­bol­ise light and life and all that’s good in this world… and we’ve chan­nelled that into our jew­ellery to il­lu­mi­nate the pow­er­ful and ra­di­ant women who wear it.”

Tes­ta­ment to the adapt­abil­ity of Zoe & Mor­gan’s brand and busi­ness model, ‘Palace of the Sun’ also de­vi­ates from the norm in that the cam­paign im­agery wasn’t pro­duced in In­dia, but in Bali. “As far as sun, it doesn’t get much bet­ter than Bali,” laughs Zoe.

It’s a seem­ingly throw­away com­ment, but in its essence and de­liv­ery it per­fectly en­cap­su­lates the core val­ues of the brand and its founders. “We ba­si­cally made up the rules to re­ally en­joy our job,” says Zoe, the in­fer­ence be­ing that rules are there to be bro­ken if a sun­nier op­tion presents it­self.

Sun-seek­ers will need no fur­ther con­vinc­ing, but for the heat­wave-averse? Per­haps the col­lec­tion’s un­of­fi­cial mantra will res­onate. “Turn your face to the sun and the shad­ows will fall be­hind you,” says Zoe.

‘Palace of the Sun’ is avail­able from Septem­ber 1.

“The more you learn, the more you re­alise there is to do. And it’s ex­cit­ing!”

Zoe Wil­liams wears Ris­ing Sun ear­rings, $575, from the ‘Palace of the Sun’ col­lec­tion.

From bot­tom left: Eclipse ear­rings, $250, Sun­beam ring, $265, Zehra ear­rings, $450, and Ris­ing Sun neck­lace, $599.

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