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Interview: Joanna Chmiel

Thursday 23 August 2012

Joanna is the jewellery designer with a fetish for rebelling against style and lifestyle stereotypes. Spindle gets to know the secrets behind the offbeat goth idea that has got us kinky-addicted.

Where did a focus on fetish in your designs come from?

I feel fetish has always been stereotyped as something grotesque, hard core and gothic. When I told my tutors and friends I was doing my graduate collection on fetish, they responded with, “Are you going to make gold cock rings?”

”Dildos on a necklace!?”

Due to this niche reputation I thought it would be interesting to play with what people automatically assume.

How does one twist a fetish template?

Since fetish has been associated with dark rooms, hidden secrets and hard-core people I loved the idea of people’s sexual fantasises no longer being hidden but on the surface. I wanted to stay away from chain mail, black and latex, instead experimenting with a lighter colour palette of creams, pink and light browns.

Changing the colour palette was the dominate point of the collection, as it would draw in viewers to try pieces on. Only then would they realise the limited movement that’s enforced by the jewellery.  It shows that fetish doesn’t need to be hidden to dominate.

Jewellery that restricts: I’m intrigued…

To hear that some people will restrain themselves or a partner as a sexual fantasy made me question why people subject themselves to this vulnerability. The psychology behind it was what drew me in.

So is this jewellery that aims to be a statement in itself, or an extension of an outfit/look as a whole?

Since my designs are quite subtle, they could be incorporated into an outfit, but I like the idea of it being the show piece. Ultimately jewellery is a body adornment and should be presented like it. Fashion jewellery is innovative and should be the statement of any outfit.

Does jewellery rule your own style?

Strangely enough I love looking at, designing and making jewellery, but never really wear it. The only thing I wear is the hand me down watch I got from my dad a few years ago. Anything else gets in my way.

If I was a stylist and set a challenge to harmonise your jewellery with a designer or vibe, what names come to mind?

I love all the work by Celine, Alexander Wang and Hussien Chalayan, so a tailored look would work best. Something classic, simple and effortlessly sexy. There is nothing better then a man or woman in a perfectly tailored suit, and my jewellery would be the perfect twist to offset the norm.

What’s next from this fantastic fetish?

Well, designing and producing the work myself is something that I really want to carry on (I don’t trust anyone enough to make my pieces for me). The Fetish angle can be explored much further due to the different disciplines which fall under it. It would be good to try out new techniques though with different materials. For my graduate collection I used a lot of nude leather (which was laser cut), walnut wood and brass, so there is definitely room for more there.

Ultimately I would love to collaborate with a menswear designer to see how we could work together to push that ready-to-wear market. I think that’s another avenue which is calling to discover un-seen heights in menswear jewellery.

We’re hooked already!

Words: Charles Matthews