How did Kelly Wearstler develop her killer aesthetic sensibility? By auction- and flea-hopping all through the eighties. “In one row, I would see things that were turn-of-the-century, French and Italian pieces, and in the next row, there’d be something completely modern,” Kelly explains. “Educating my eye and seeing these different objects play against each other made me fall in love with art.”
Her next move? Art school, naturally. The South Carolina native packed her bags and headed for Boston where she waited tables by day and spent her nights studying graphic design and architecture at the Massachusetts College of Art. After graduation, she signed up for an apprenticeship with world-renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser (That “I ♥ NY” logo? Yep, that’s him) to put her already-sophisticated design skills to work. By 1998, she was well on her to becoming an interior-designer powerhouse, starting with the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills and moving onto the Viceroy Hotels and Bergdorf Goodman’s BG Restaurant—oh, and her own home line, which oozes her signature raw-meets-refined style.
But Kelly found no need to stop at décor. With a loooong list of happy clients already under her very stylish belt, she decided to bring her skills to, well, belts—and jewelry, jackets, dresses, and bags, taking her namesake label into the apparel-and-accessories realm in 2011. “You just have to be focused,” she explains of her envy-inducing empire. “I’m confident, I know what I want, and I know what I don’t like. There’s no, ‘Let me think about it.’ It’s just, ‘Yes. I like it, let’s move on.’” —monica derevjanik
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Elizabeth Knight Remakes Nature
And somehow even improves upon it.
The objects that Elizabeth has turned into jewelry.
Growing up, Elizabeth Thompson spent a lot of time running around outside, and as a adult, she brought her outdoorsy background to her work, casting found organic objects to serve as the foundation for the pieces in her launch collection for Elizabeth Knight some years back. Now she is more than happy to share the origin story behind each discovery. —lydia woolever
“On the South Carolina coast, there’s an area made up of all these little islands, right off the ocean. My mom has property there, on St. Helena’s Island. It gets rough in some areas, and when the tide goes out, all sorts of things are exposed from under the water and beneath the marsh. And that’s really where this all started.”
“When I first saw this wishbone in South Carolina, I wasn’t sure what it was a part of. But after doing some research, I discovered it belonged to a bird. The natural shape seemed really obvious for a necklace.”
“This stingray tail, on the other hand—it was pretty recognizable. This was from a few years ago, on a family trip to the Bahamas. I was looking through the little street shacks that carry makeshift jewelry made out of seashells and skeleton pieces and other little odd parts. But the stingray tail caught my eye—the sharp, barbed edges.”
“I found this frog on a walk through my mom’s property, and this is one of his vertebras. He was pretty much down to bones by that point. His body became a brooch and also a necklace. I got a lot of mileage out of this little guy.”
“I found this seahorse on another family vacation in the tropics. It’s kind of crazy how they dry up like this—look at his little spikes. But he’s so sweet.”