If you’ve ever resolved to wear a set of enamel lips around your finger, you may not know this, but Solange Azaguray-Partridge, the English jewelry designer who once creative directed at Boucheron, did that to you.
Patridge launched her eponymous label sixteen years ago and has since built a cult-following of curious enamel object enthusiasts who span across multiple continents, some of whom land right here on Kenmare Street at Man Repeller’s headquarters. For no imminent release or timely peg (or real reason beyond my own fandom) here’s an interview plus photos with the deeply cerebral, highly creative designer who calls herself “afraid of empty spaces.”
How did you get started as a designer?
I designed my engagement ring. I was working for an antique jewelry and furniture dealer at the time named Gordon Watson (the Extraordinary Collector on BBC1).
Do you credit any artists or creatives in particular as the leading source of your inspiration?
I admire many artists and creatives. I wouldn’t credit them as a source of my inspiration but perhaps their attitude and freedom of expression and the particular emotions they evoke inspire me. Carravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, René Lalique, Botticelli, Tom Wesselmann, David Webb, Lucio Fontana…..
In a couple of sentences, how does the design process work, from sprout-of-an-idea to product?
I’m often sparked by a word or colors or an abstract idea. Platonic, Chrominance and Metamorphosis have all been key themes of collections. Platonic was about the shapes of mathematics. Chromance was about my love of color so red became the Blood Red suite — blood being the perfect epitome of the color red. Metamorphosis stems from the idea that an object you admire could become jewelry to be loved and worn.
Do you have style icons? If so, who are they?
I love women and men who are totally free and true to themselves, unconcerned by the perception of others. They always look the best.
What pieces are you most proud of as a designer?
Which do you wear the most?
You are perhaps best-known for your Lips ring. How did you come up with that concept and why do you think it does so well?
In the days of letter writing, I used to kiss the letter before sending while wearing pink, red or black cherry lipsticks. These happen to be my best-selling colors, even now. I don’t really know why they do so well. Everyone loves lipstick. These are kind of the embodiment of your perfect lipstick color on a beautiful, pouty, kissable mouth. They give off a happy vibe.
Why do you find jewelry important for a woman? I know that I love it because it provides me with the opportunity to create stories and instill value in the items to pass on to future progeny…
Jewelry can certainly create a story of who you are or the person you want to be. It can makes a woman feel beautiful, powerful, magical, erudite, safe…..separately or all at the same time.
If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing?
In my dreams I would be sculpting or painting in a messy studio wearing paint-splattered clothes or out in nature doing the same.
What’s the best part of your job/the worst part of your job?
The best bits are knowing that I’ve cracked a good idea, the challenge of making something perfectly, seeing it for the first time and finally, seeing someone love it enough to want to own it.
The worst bits are all the unrelated to actual jewelry: the legal, the HR, the finance, the business….yawn!
And finally, what was the inspiration for your store’s interior?
I just love a fabric covered wall. I think ceilings are often ignored so I didn’t ignore mine. I have a a condition called horror vacui – Latin for the fear of empty spaces, so it’s as full and colorful and decorated as can be.