TGIF everyone and welcome to Love Fashion | Live Life's Feature Friday! Today I'd like to spotlight an amazing jewelry designer who's one-of-a-kind pieces totally caught my eye. I was lucky enough to get to rock her jewelry during New York Fashion Week! See what the hype is all about!
LFLL Getting Up-Close & Personal With Designer Kristen Dorsey
1. LFLL: Hi Kristen! I'm so excited to do this interview with you because I la la LOVE your jewelry! Ok, so here's a quick easy first question - What sets Kristen Dorsey Designs apart from other handmade jewelry?
KDD: My work uses unique techniques and tells a unique story. Many of the materials and techniques that I use reflect my research and passion for the history of southeastern Native American adornment. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, I have devoted my academic and artistic career to the preservation and revitalization of our unique designs and historical jewelry and adornment. While most people quickly recognize Southwestern style turquoise and silver jewelry as typical Native American adornment, most do not realize that there is an incredible amount of regional and tribal design diversity. Through my work, I seek to bring awareness of Chickasaw artistic traditions to the art and fashion worlds. The Chickasaw Nation was removed from our southeastern homelands (parts of modern day Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama) on the trail of tears in the 1830s, however our connection to the homelands and our unique culture remains strong. Our ancestors were skilled artisans and designers who crafted beautifully engraved shell jewelry. They also worked native copper into detailed relief sculptures worn as part of sacred regalia. As a contemporary Chickasaw metal smith, I use the ancient relief sculpture technique to create most of my designs, and materials used in my work such as freshwater pearls have been used by my ancestors for thousands of years in jewelry designs.
2. LFLL: What is your inspiration behind each piece? Does each piece tell a story?
KDD: Such a great question! Yes, each piece absolutely tells a story. This is what I love about jewelry, it can become so personal and special and it is so satisfying to hear how my customers relate in their own unique way to my work. My current collection is all about the beauty of organic textures and forms found in nature, and how we as humans relate to our environment. I grew up and currently live in southern California as a surfer and the daughter of a marine biologist. I spent my whole life being fascinated by the ocean. For example, the barnacle ring is an expression of this. There is beauty and mystery in the smallest of organisms and they all life is connected. My barnacle rings are set with conflict-free diamonds in either black or champagne and have become one of my best sellers. Another story I tell through my jewelry is about Chickasaw traditional dance. Chickasaw female dancers traditionally used groupings of turtle shells filled with pebbles and tied together as wearable instruments called shell shakers. The shell shakers are worn on the shins of the dancers who step in a certain way to create the rhythm of the dance. The Loksi (turtle) collection of earrings, and a pendant feature a small turtle shell that I hand sculpted.
3. LFLL: I notice that on your website, your collection is categorized by elements. Can you explain that for the readers?
KDD: The Earth, Sky, Water collection celebrates each element with a central cultural theme. Each element has a handful of designs that relate back to the cultural themes. The Loksi collection represents the Earth. Across many different Native cultures, the turtle symbolizes the earth. The turtle is also significant to Chickasaw culture because of it’s importance in our traditional dances. The sky collection consists of the sky serpent earrings, cuffs, and pendants. The sky serpent is a deity from southeastern cultures which controls the weather and is the main being of the sky world. It is represented in the jewelry through the sculpted scale patterns on each of the pieces. The water collection celebrates the textures found on aquatic life. Rivers and water were central to our ancestor’s way of life in the homelands. Rivers not only provided sustenance, but were also the pathways for trade goods throughout the East. Amongst these trade goods were precious materials such as native copper and conch shells, both highly valued materials for ceremonial objects and adornment.
4. LFLL: You're participating in Project Ethos for LAFW! That's exciting! What can we expect to see on the models?
KDD: A brand new collection! I will be debuting the Shokmalli’ Collection, which will be the second Kristen Dorsey Designs ready-to-wear collection. This collection is inspired by celestial and sky themes in Chickasaw culture. I take the various moods of the Sky Serpent, and explore them through jewelry pieces ranging from delicate to dramatic statement pieces. Expect to see Models looking both powerful, yet feminine in my pieces in shades of rose gold. I am also using semi-precious stones such as chalcedony and black onyx, and I am mixing metals with beautiful woven black leather cords and an environmentally friendly shell laminate material. Where the Earth, Sky, Water collection is all about organic forms, this collection will be more graphic with bold shapes and high polished metal. I am also very excited to be paired with the clothing designer Lauren Stucky. Her beautiful leather and chiffon designs will be perfectly sleek and edgy and will showcase my jewelry in a very modern way.
5. LFLL: What can we expect to see for your next collection?
KDD: After my Fashion Week event, the Shokmalli’ Collection will be available to the public through my online store. I also sell on the popular online boutique Beyond Buckskin and will have a feature week beginning on October 21st where there will be sales on older pieces and promotions for my new designs. We are also working on a fashion video and look book showcasing the Shokmalli’ Collection filmed by the amazing fashion photographer Anthony ‘Thosh” Collins. To get the latest Kristen Dorsey Designs news, show schedule, and occasional website coupon codes, sign up for my monthly newsletter.
Tee Gee Eye Eff!!
Who do you want to see on the next Feature Friday?!