All it took was one read through Annie Costello Brown’s bio and I was intrigued…very intrigued.
This month’s featured jewelry artist, she is the designer behind ACB– a line of hand-made pieces in materials including leather, bronze castings, vintage chains, natural shells and semi-precious stones. Her creativity and design sensibilities originated in her childhood, growing up in the Sausalitohouseboat community of the 1970s and 80s. This was a community of artists, musicians and crafters who established their own sort of counterculture in the Northern California bay, and nurtured her own resourcefulness and creativity.
The community still exists, but went through a period of intense struggle in the late 70s and 80s called the “House Boat Wars” that was between the houseboat community and wealthy developers that wanted them out. This no doubt was also influential on Annie Costello Brown’s upbringing and the work that she would one day create.
This history kept playing in my mind as I looked at the ACB pieces we are carrying – the eclipse necklace, with its combination of leather, chains and beads, the texture and blue beading of the cyanea necklace and the fierce looking linea blades necklace. I can see the influence of the Sausalito seas and unique architectural elements in the necklaces featured in our September catalog. The collection has something for everyone, ranging from bold statement pieces to delicate casual elegance, all with an underlying intrigue that speaks of turmoil, triumph and fierce individuality.
And just for you, here’s a little peek inside the ACB studio!
Our display team continues to blow my mind… for Fall they have turned our stores into an enchanted forest of color and texture. Window screens crafted out of tree branches, sweater fragments, neon tape, yarn and other embellishments invite you into the store, where you are greeted by walls hung with embroidered canvas sacks, wooden flowers, patchwork flannel canvases embellished with sequins and cutouts, and even a magical free people deer. Take a look!
One of our fp girls cut pieces of her own sweater to use in the branch screen, making a cute crop top!
I love the colorful branches! Some are wrapped in fabric or string and some are painted. There are so many different fun combinations you can try!
Some of the canvas sacks are stuffed with sticks, while others hang flat on the walls. I love the bright colors and patterns of the embroidery!
The detail in these sequin blanket canvases is incredible.
All the tiny details make me smile.
This might be my favorite part – wooden flowers are taped in rows to the walls with neon pink duct tape! I am definitely thinking about doing this at my apartment.
how amazing do the flowers look on the wood panels?!
One store made their own little “barn” with wood and drew on it with chalk :)
pretty rad bike.
And last but certainly not least… the deer! Each store has one, and it arrived at the store as a plain statue which they then paint and embellish. So amazing! I love that each one is unique and special.
What do you guys think of the fall displays? What’s your favorite part?
When I was reading the Guide to Venice that our producer put together, I was surprised when she said Venice is a city known for its decay – I’ve never been there and am not very familiar with it, but from what I’ve seen it looks beautiful and far from decay. But it’s true, and the same aquatic setting that also makes Venice so scenic puts its gorgeous architecture at greater risk of decay. In some ways this also adds an element of dramatic beauty and heightens the mystique of the city. In the behind the scenes photos from our shoot, Thomas Northcut also captured the dark beauty of the architecture in Venice…these photos take my breath away.
Our featured jewelry designer this month is Carol Marie, a line launched by designers Jennifer Carol Kramer and Heather Marie White based on their love for statement pieces and belief that a certain piece of jewelry can transform your look. Their pieces are strong enough to be worn on their own, but designed to be layered together. Their Ethiopian Double Cross Necklace is featured throughout our August catalog, along with the gorgeous Sapphire Tiered Jewel Necklace, Hinged Studded Cuff, Studded Enamel Bangle and Large Amulet Pendant.
on the left – a more layered look; on the right – stunning simplicity.
Even amidst the beautiful Venetian scenery and clothing, these pieces stand out and certainly do make a statement. Antique metals, romantic details, glowing jewels and architectural elements make them the perfect pieces to be featured in this book as they reflect the characteristics of the city of Venice itself.
remember liz, our brooklyn fp girl who makes rad vests? well she’s at it again…my jaw dropped when i opened my email this morning and saw her latest project! not only are her patriotic vests to die for, but these photos are so inspiring. thank you liz!
Free People is introducing a luxury collection that takes sweater dressing to new heights. It is the first Free People capsule collection based around the craftsmanship of hand crochet and knitting. Inspired by a trip to Florence and a love of yarn, the collection breaths a life of elegance and sophistication into our upcoming line – If you have a love for crochet then this will take your breath away.
“FP Spun features garments made with Italian yarns, shiny silk blends and nubbed soft linens accentuated with intricate jacquards and stitches bringing a little shine for a fancy detail. The dresses range from short and flirty to slinky and long to shaped and sculpted. Each item portrays a different personality– it’s an extremely versatile collection”
The items are uniquely made, no sketching or design process is involved just a love for fine yarns telling a story as our designers knit through their imagination. We are in love with this delicate collection. Here’s a little insight behind the label from our head sweaters designer Rachael
What is FP spun?
An elevated, elegant, unique line of sweaters, beautiful dresses, skirts, glistening shorts and pants.
How did it come about?
I had just been to Pitti Filati in Florence and was inspired by all the shiny, iridescent, plush platinum, rose & liquid gold, shimmery sandy yarns and fell in love with all of them……the beauty of the yarns was amazing. A glistening joyful delight. As I had never really explored such yarns it was all untouched territory to me, so fresh and new and something I really loved.
After I had been shopping in Paris and London I had a bit of an “Ab Fab” moment, and all I wanted to wear was sweaters from head to toe…..“head to toe”, I know ridiculous! I was really into fine knit trousers to open crochet tops and sheer layering pieces……maxi crochet dresses and long fluid skirts
Meg, the president of Free People, had inspired me by bringing in some of her beautiful vintage sweater pieces, dresses, skirts and fabulous pants. And then began the first chapter of designing into a unique, sweater exclusive, high end line “FP Spun”. Elegant dresses, skirts, shorts and pants using all the wonderful yarns that caught my eye….such a delight to be able to use such beautiful yarns. I had discovered something new that I loved ……
Dresses have always been a passion of mine. I love searching for the most unique vintage piece and designing into elegant dresses….bringing out the beauty of the person within. It’s always nice to feel pretty, beautiful, elegant and happy, a dress is always the answer to happiness for me.
What makes FP Spun so special?
It’s nice to be able to create something from the beginning. The beauty of the garment evolves and unfolds as you crochet and knit with the yarns. It then forms into something beautiful that you can design into. It’s so much fun; I always feel like I’m sculpting with the yarn, and it then leads you into an amazing dress.
All the yarns are Italian or Japanese. The Japanese have the most innovative space dye colors. They are very unique. We have also started to line all the dresses with delicate beautiful French laces, and as the collection evolves, we are beginning to piece the garments with French embroideries and embellishments, pretty exciting stuff……shine + Italian or Japanese + French laces = sheer happiness for me and a beautiful garment.
“Beauty can come from the strangest of places even the most disgusting of places,It’s the ugly things I notice more, because other people tend to ignore the ugly things”- Alexander McQueen
While I was studying fashion design at university, I was introduced to the wonderful and magnificent world that was created by Alexander McQueen. I became fascinated in his approach to Fashion… I found him an incredibly interesting person. He did not just create fashion for women to wear, he created stories, visually stimulating performances as captivating as a movie you want to watch over and over again.
His background in tailoring made him a perfectionist. Every little detail was done so well that I was often left breathless.
One of the first shows I was introduced to was “Deliverance” Spring/Summer 2004, and I think it has remained one the most beautiful fashion shows I have ever seen.
Deliverance was inspired by the 1970’s Sydney Pollack film ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’. When the famous dance marathon theme came alive and models and professional dancers sashayed intensely around each other, the runway became a theoretical performance. I loved the disturbance of this show, and the contradiction it created. Beautiful craftsmanship against the backdrop of America during the great depression was unsettling – a battle between the beautiful and the damned. At the end of the show, the professional dancer wears the exact same dress as model Karen Elson, who opened the show, but the sequins are tarnished and the embroidery unpicked and distressed. This show got me good, and I was then hooked to everything he did.
As you can imagine when his life ended, it broke my heart. Such a maverick was lost. However, a couple of days ago, I managed to experience some of his magic at the Met in New York. The “Savage Beauty” exhibit was such a beautiful and eerie experience that took my breath away.
emily hirsch was raised on a vineyard in the anderson valley where she grew up surrounded by the rich, earthy scents of northern california – mossy forests, redwood trees, fermenting grapes, warm earth and sea fog to name a few. she says, “i love how a smell can transport you to the time and place you first smelled it.”
now based in brooklyn, emily is a jewelry designer who started talon nyc. combining a love of vintage inspired jewelry and the aromas of her childhood, she designed the beautiful amulette necklaces that we are carrying at free people.
“fragrance has been worn in beautiful adornments since ancient times, to ward off evil, intoxicate lovers, enhance mood, and interact with the spirits.”
the amulettes are made entirely of recycled materials and hand cast in bronze, silver and glass. when filled with a scent and warmed by the body, they release subtle aromas that escape through the cork stopper, drifting up to the wearer throughout the day. the cork can be removed and used to dab the scent behind the ears, on the neck, or wherever is desired.
emily carefully blends essential oils to create the scents held inside the amulettes, and has made three custom scents. the signature is described as “an intoxicating aroma of tobacco leaf and newly opened orange blossom. it makes us think of sitting in our grandfathers’ old, worn in leather chair in a dimly lit, cozy room, surrounded by books, a scotch and a small branch pulled from the apple tree blooming outside.”
read on for an interview with emily and stay tuned for a guest post she wrote for the blog about a recent road trip she took with family band and warpaint!
Can you tell me a little bit about the process of making the scents that go inside the amulettes?
The biggest trick to making scents is experimenting with as many combinations as possible. When I made Avalon, I knew I wanted to use Jasmine, as it’s one of my favorite floral scents. So I started with just Jasmine, and then would add one more thing to it. Then the next day I would go back and smell each combination. You have to also smell the scent on your skin as it is usually pretty different.
I would pick my favorites and then decide what they needed next. If it was too sweet smelling, I would add earthier, muskier or grassier scents next to balance the sweetness. You also have to throw out preconceived notions about what will mix well together because it’s often the unexpected combinations that work best.
Once I have the final blends, I will start wearing the scent when I go out and see how it evolves throughout the night and how I feel wearing it.
How would you describe your personal style?
Sexy 70s! (Which happens to also be a nickname J.) I am very inspired by the 1970s, musically and stylistically. I buy a lot of vintage clothing and like to layer vintage and new pieces to create a look that isn’t over stylized in one era but has a definite 70s slant combined with a natural 60s vibe.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I love spending time with friends, eating tasty food and drinking good wine! My husband, Scott, is a great cook, so most evenings he is cooking something we picked up at the farmer’s market and we are listening to records and having wine. We also have a cat named Arrow who I spend a lot of time spoiling.
What’s your favorite city or place?
I grew up in California, so the whole state is very nostalgic for me. But my favorite place is Ojai, where my mom lives. I try to get there at least once a year and love taking bike rides through the orange grooves with views of the Topa Topa mountains.
My favorite city is New York! We have lived in New York for about four years and I’ve never felt more creative than I do here.
What music are you listening to right now?
I am pretty much stuck in the 70s with some guilty pleasure 80s music thrown in for good measure. My staples include Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart (early stuff) and the Faces, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, David Bowie…
As a kid it was the Secret Garden because I was always looking to find secret hiding places in the woods. As a college student, probably Love in the Time of Cholera because I lived in Costa Rica and fell in love with Latin culture and magical realism.
How did your road trip with the Family Band and Warpaint come about?
My husband has toured in various bands many times during our relationship, so when his band, Family Band, went on tour with Warpaint I asked if I could come to see what touring is all about. I went on the leg through the South because I have never been, and have this very romantic view of that part of the country. We went to Durham, Asheville, Nashville, Athens, New Orleans, Houston and Austin. I loved the humid rich tropical magic of the South.
What’s next for talon? Anything you can tell us about what you’re currently working on?
I launched Talon with just the amulette necklace, but for fall, I want to release a full line of jewelry. I’m obsessed with braids and twists, so I’m incorporating that pattern into a bunch of different pieces. I’m also going to have some castings and will be releasing the amulette in some vintage glass colors. I’m sure I will work on a new scent as well!
Actually, my name is Liz. I am a young designer, a recent graduate from Parsons The New School for Design, and a current associate at Free People in Soho, NY. I started crocheting these vests this past year and asked some of the Free People girls to rock them for me.
This past season I looked to craft and the charm in handmade objects for inspiration. I had just moved into my new loft in Brooklyn, NY and found my place was a collection of crafts. My most prized possession is a yellow chevron pattern crocheted blanket my mom made when I was young. I owe all of my talent to my mom, who taught me how to crochet. As for the vest itself, I focused on creating a piece that would complete every outfit in my closet. My style is that similar to that of the Free People girl. I look to Pamela Love and Erin Wasson for style inspiration, who both share that endearing, yet individualized free-spirited vibe. I feel like a vest is something you can wear year round: in the winter, I’m always looking for another layer and in the summer, it’s great with a tank and shorts or just over a bathing suit!
thank you so much for sharing liz!!! not only did you quote one of my favorite songs but the vests are amazing and i’m insanely jealous of your rooftop garden…xoxo