Fashion Editors Take Notice – Authentic American Indian Jewelry Should Be the New “It” Jewelry

Coming from Santa Fe, New Mexico and working in the American Indian art business, I’ve grown quite accustomed to seeing the coolest, edgiest, and most beautiful American Indian jewelry being worn on a daily basis. Flip through the latest issue of Vogue, Elle, or InStyle, though, and I dare you to find a model wearing a piece of true natural turquoise. To me, this is quite the fashion travesty, for good Native American jewelry worn the right way can make all the fashion difference in the world. Here are some reasons why quality Authentic American Indian jewelry should be the new “It” jewelry:

  • Most authentic American Indian jewelry is hand-made rather than mass produced. What could be better than wearing a piece of fantastic jewelry that no one else has!
  • If you’re wearing authentic American Indian jewelry you’re supporting true artists and an art form that has withstood the test of time while constantly evolving into new innovations as well.
  • Natural American turquoise (the subject of an article to come) is truly rare. Some of the turquoise mines are no longer even producing that type of turquoise. If you’re able to acquire a jewelry piece with natural turquoise, you’ve got a piece with a stone that’s in quite limited supply.
  • Antique or vintage American Indian jewelry pieces, like turquoise stones, are obviously limited in supply, so again, you won’t have to worry about showing up at the Academy Awards wearing the same Leekya Deyuse fetish necklace as your on and off-screen rival.
  • Don’t like silver or turquoise? No problem, a lot of Native artists are taking their jewelry to new and incredible gold heights. Check out Maria Samora’s work – she was the poster artist for the 2009 Santa Fe Indian Market.
  • You want a jeweler’s name to love, a Harry Winston of the Native jewelry world perhaps? Don’t worry. There are true “stars” in the American Indian jewelry world, artists who have a cult-like following among collectors because of their innovative designs and expert craftsmanship.
  • In our eco-conscious world, what could be more green than buying a NATIVE American made piece that’s hand-fashioned out of natural materials?

I hope this little piece at least nudges you to do a little search of American Indian jewelry on your own. You’ll be amazed at how wonderful it is. Who knows, maybe next time I’m traveling outside of Santa Fe, I’ll see a really great pair of Mike Bird Romero earrings on someone, or maybe, just maybe I’ll open up that issue of Vogue and see a model wearing a Charles Loloma pendant with her Marchesa gown.

Before They Were Brands – How Some Top Fashion Design Labels Got Their Start

They’re the must-have fashion design labels, the status brands that we just have to wear. But some labels and designers have become such a part of our fashion culture that it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always successful brands. At one point, the founders were fashion school students, stock boys or sales clerks. In fact, learning about how the designers got their start makes one admire them even more. Here, then, are some top fashion labels and the story of their humble beginnings.

Marc Jacobs. One of today’s top design celebrities, Marc Jacobs’ first job in fashion was as a stock boy at Charavari, an avant-garde clothing boutique in Manhattan. After graduating from high school, he went to fashion college, where he launched a line of hand-knit sweaters. His first job out of fashion school was at Perry Ellis, but he designed a grunge collection there that led to his dismissal. In 1986, with the help of financial backers, he designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label.

Kenneth Cole. Not many people realize that the full name of Kenneth Cole’s brand is “Kenneth Cole Productions.” Why is that? In 1982, the designer wanted to show his first line of shoes at Market Week at the New York Hilton, but couldn’t afford a hotel room or exhibit space. So instead, he parked a trailer two blocks from the hotel to sell his shoes. The only catch was that only production companies were granted permits to park trailers on the street. Not letting that stop him, he turned his shoe company into a film production company, shooting a documentary about his business and selling 40,000 pairs of shoes in the process.

Juicy Couture. The label that popularized the velour track suit was founded by fashion school grad Pamela Skaist-Levy and and Gela Nash-Taylor, wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor. Believe it or not, their first product was maternity pants. After changing the brand’s focus to active wear, the brand continued to struggle until they sent a free track suit to Madonna with “Madge” emblazoned on it. The superstar was photographed wearing it in public, and Juicy Couture was on the map.

Vera Wang. She may be known for her elegant wedding gowns and costumes for figure skaters like Michelle Kwan, but Vera Wang actually started out as a figure skater as well. She competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and was one of “Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd” that year. She failed to make the U.S. Olympic team and began a career in fashion journalism. She was a senior fashion editor for “Vogue” for 16 years, but left when she was turned down for the top job that Anna Wintour secured. She then became a design director at Ralph Lauren before striking out on her own.

Anna Sui. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Anna Sui loved fashion as a little girl, clipping out fashion magazine pages for her scrapbook. After attending fashion college, she worked for various junior sportswear companies by day, and designing her own clothing by night, eventually launching her own label out of her tiny New York apartment.

Ralph Lauren. Born Ralph Lifshitz, the designer’s first foray into fashion was selling neckties to his fellow classmates at his Talmudical academy. After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked for Brooks Brothers as a sales clerk. In 1967, he became an entrepreneur and opened a necktie store where he sold various labels, including his own, which he called “Polo.” He soon introduced men’s and women’s suits to his line, and eventually gained international recognition when he designed the clothes for the Robert Redford movie, “The Great Gatsby.”

These brands may have started out small, but they became fashion giants. And that’s inspiration indeed for anyone wanting to break into fashion design.

Fashion Photography

Do you want to be a fashion photographer? Fashion photography is an extremely tough market to break into, but if you are willing to work hard, have a good imagination and hold the ability to take perfect images you are off to a good start.

A fashion photographer must be good in two photography disciplines. First, you need to be a great portrait photographer – second, you need to be able to create images for the advertisement market. You must be able to combine the two if you are going to succeed.

To be a successful fashion photographer you must also have a love of fine design clothes – without it you will never achieve the heights that bring success. A fashion photographer must stay up to date with all the latest fashion and have the ability to use his/her imagination to sell new designs.

Selling is the key – the fashion photographer must be able to sell his images to the fashion editor. Fashion photography is advertising and selling clothes.

To establish a reputation in fashion photography, the first thing you must do is set up a portfolio. Your portfolio should display your best work and be your first selling point. The second, and equally as important as the first, is to set up an online portfolio – your own personal Website.

To set up a portfolio you first must hire a model. Contacting your local modelling agencies can do this. You don’t need to hire a well-known model for your fashion portfolio – you need someone who will act well in front of the camera.

To be very successful you need to build a good relationship with models. Some models can be tough to work with so people psychology will play an important part. If you intend to shoot from your home studio supply a changing room for them.

If a model becomes unhappy for any reason the photo session will be a waste of time. Allow your model to make their own suggestions – regardless of how trivial it may be, it will help to keep them relaxed and you may get results that may be useful.

Once your portfolio is created you need to get exposure for it. If you have previously published work – use them as a statement with the picture editors. You need to establish a good working relationship with all fashion editors that you’ll be working with. So be professional.

Fashion photo editors are looking for concise images that clearly communicate an idea. You must, as a fashion photographer, have the ability to create unique settings.

When you do gather a large amount of fashion images, submit them to a fashion agency: Women’s magazines all over the world buy hundreds of stock shots every month. Photo agencies exist to sell photographers images – some of the larger fashion agencies have buyers all over the world. Some agencies can also re-sell your work in several different markets, and others will give you great career advice.

Keep up to date with fashion magazines, study the market and always be on the lookout for changing trends.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step. If a fashion editor has no interest in your work – don’t worry – try contacting different magazines or agencies – most great photographers have their work rejected some time during their career.