Web of won­der / 252

Schön! catches up with him to talk about fa­mous clients, Fair Trade and the fu­ture…

Schon! - - Contents - In­ter­view / Huma Hu­mayun Photography / Travis Rath­bone @ Apos­tro­phe Styling / So­nia Rentsch Re­touch / MONARC New York

Mag­nipheas­ant Feath­ers Col­lar / Stephen Web­ster avail­able at Bergdorf Good­man

Since the 1980s, Stephen Web­ster has been break­ing all the rules with his de­li­ciously dark and danger­ous col­lec­tions. With over 200 points of sale around the world, a di­rec­tor­ship at Gar­rard (the world’s old­est jew­ellery house) and an MBE un­der his belt, Web­ster has more than made it, but this cher­ished Bri­tish icon wasn’t al­ways ac­cepted by the in­dus­try at home. He also nearly didn’t be­come a jew­ellery designer at all. Luck­ily for us, one wrong turn made early in life has re­sulted in decades of de­sir­able cre­ations.

What first at­tracted you to the world of fine jew­ellery?

To be hon­est, it was slightly by ac­ci­dent! I was go­ing to study fash­ion de­sign at the Med­way Col­lege in Kent and, by chance, walked into a jew­ellery de­sign class. The flames, noise, chem­i­cals and shiny ob­jects were in­stantly ap­peal­ing and much more up my al­ley. I guess it was a good choice as 38 years later I am still at it!

You first be­came suc­cess­ful in the USA, rather than the UK. Why do you think that was?

I spent years living in Canada and then in Cal­i­for­nia and it was there that I started to cre­ate my own de­signs. In con­trast to Bri­tain at the time, Amer­i­cans were very open to [the] more bold and colour­ful jew­ellery that mine shaped out to be. For many years, even af­ter I re­turned to Lon­don, most of ev­ery­thing we made was sold in the US.

You have a lot of very fa­mous cus­tomers, but is it true that El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor was the first?

El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor was my first celebrity client; she brought one of my clas­sic crys­tal haze rings which is still one of our bestsellers to­day. Since then we’ve dressed ev­ery­one from Madonna to Kate Moss.

You were also one of the first fine jew­ellery de­sign­ers to re­ally em­brace men’s jew­ellery. What was the mar­ket like when you started and what is it like now? Ten years ago I de­cided it was time for Stephen Web­ster to launch a men’s col­lec­tion. The press loved it, but, with the ex­cep­tion of Neiman Mar­cus in the States, no-one wanted to take it up. Such was the lack of con­fi­dence for men’s jew­ellery amongst the re­tail com­mu­nity that, apart from the cuff­link se­lec­tion, maybe some pens and a cou­ple of signet ring blanks, there wasn’t even a place to dis­play a men’s col­lec­tion. Nowa­days that’s all changed; the se­lec­tion of men’s jew­ellery on of­fer is amaz­ing. Com­pared to even five years ago, there is vir­tu­ally some­thing for ev­ery­one.

What do your male cus­tomers look for in a piece of jew­ellery?

Over the years we’ve learned a lot about what is likely to turn men on. Men love manly ma­te­ri­als such as Flint, Blood­stone or Spi­derman Jasper. We are al­ways look­ing for new ma­te­ri­als to in­tro­duce. I swear if there was a stone called testos­terone it would be a win­ner!

How does your jew­ellery re­flect your own per­son­al­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence?

It has al­ways been my pas­sion to cul­ti­vate col­lec­tions that push all cre­ative bound­aries, are high on in­no­va­tory and are un­re­servedly cool. All of my work is a re­flec­tion of my per­son­al­ity. I am for­tu­nate that, self­ishly, I have pur­sued top­ics and in­spi­ra­tions from my life ex­pe­ri­ences and trans­lated them into our many col­lec­tions. Within all of them, there is vi­brancy. I am a cheery fel­low.

Could you tell us a bit about your lat­est col­lec­tion and the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind it?

The 2014 col­lec­tion [cel­e­brates] all things quintessen­tially Bri­tish. Mag­nipheas­ant de­picts the iri­des­cent plumage of the pheas­ant, an ex­otic bird ever present in the English coun­try­side, while pieces from Lady Star­dust are in­spired by the cul­tural icon David Bowie, de­pict­ing the fa­mous ‘light­ning bolt’ mo­tif fea­tured on the Aladdin Sane al­bum cover. You’re known as an ad­vo­cate of Fair Trade and eth­i­cal prac­tices. How far does the in­dus­try have to go to make this the norm?

As we stand, the sup­ply of Fair­trade and Fairmined prod­ucts is rel­a­tively small within the jew­ellery in­dus­try and the aware­ness is still quite low. This is much more about the fu­ture. Our ex­pe­ri­ence to date has shown us that, once the con­sumer knows there is an eth­i­cal al­ter­na­tive to any of the ma­te­ri­als used in their jew­ellery, the re­sponse is al­ways pos­i­tive.

What does the MBE (Mem­ber of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire - a hon­our be­stowed by HM The Queen) mean to you?

Be­ing awarded my MBE for ser­vices to train­ing and skills in the Bri­tish Jew­ellery In­dus­try was an in­cred­i­bly proud mo­ment for me. Through­out my ca­reer I have al­ways strived to sup­port and nur­ture up-and-com­ing jew­ellery tal­ent and to be recog­nised for this was a huge hon­our.

You al­ready have five bou­tiques around the world, as well as many other re­tail­ers. What’s next for the Stephen Web­ster brand?

Fur­ther devel­op­ment of brand ex­ten­sions with a life­style el­e­ment is the set agenda. De­vel­op­ing new cat­e­gories such as sun­glasses, ac­ces­sories, watches, as well as new jew­ellery col­lec­tions. Each week a new project comes up… va­ri­ety is the spice of life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.