UPDATE: Time for a mid-afternoon study break. Peep this gorgeous pics of one of our favorite jewelry designers modeling her to-die-for wardrobe. This story was originally published on August 1.
Woolly mammoths aren't exactly on par with diamonds, but trust Monique Péan to make the ancient beast as precious as several karats of the icy stuff. The fine jeweler's penchant for the extraordinary is more than evident in her namesake collection
, which transforms hard-to-find materials into conversation pieces that you won't find adorning every other girl at Super Linda. While her jewels don't have the massive sparkle and color of her contemporaries' offerings, her subtlety actually makes more of a statement. The CFDA winner — inspired by National Geographic
-worthy globe-trotting — sells everything from geometric, fossilized-mammoth bangles and sliced-diamonds necklaces to walrus and ivory rings and, even, Mwanza warthog tusk drop earrings.
Yes, the sparklers might be pricey, but everything in Péan's treasure chest is socially and environmentally conscious
, sourcing recycled materials and employing indigenous artisans for a gift that keeps on giving (back). Appropriately awed, we tapped the inspiring designer to model her favorite right-now looks around her office's Meatpacking District 'hood. The result is an accessory-heavy (and heady) mix that will have you adding layers, textures, and, of course, jewels into your wardrobe rotation
, immediately. And, maybe some prehistoric creatures, too.
Photographed by Maia Harms
As some may know, you used to be an investment banker. What made you decide to
make the change to designing jewelry?
"While I was working in finance, my younger sister, Vanessa Péan, passed away in a car
accident. The tragedy caused me to reevaluate how I wanted to live my life. My sister
had such a passion for helping others, and I wanted to find a way to get involved in
philanthropy to a greater degree. I had always been attracted to art and design so
starting my own sustainable jewelry line was a way to express my creative side while
also having a positive social impact."
Rick Owens leather jacket, vintage dress, Balenciaga clutch, Givenchy shoes, Monique Péan jewelry.
Makeup by Jenny Smith/NARS
What is your favorite part about designing jewelry?
"The top part of the design process is being able to discover unique materials, and working with them in sculptural ways to reflect ideas that are inspirational to me."
What inspires you in your designs?
"Every year, I take a trip to a new region to find sustainable materials and partner
with local artisans to develop my new collections. The geography and indigenous art of
these areas are core inspirations for me, as are modern artistic movements."
What causes are closest to your heart?
"Issues related to healthcare and clean drinking water in the developing world are
very important to me. charity: water
is a fantastic organization that builds wells to
provide clean drinking water in impoverished areas, and Partners in Health
great organization that provides free healthcare to impoverished communities."
What is your typical work outfit?
"I don’t have a typical uniform as my schedule is constantly changing. I often go
straight from work to events in the evenings and don’t have time to change in between, so I am probably a bit more dressed up at work than most people, but I try to have fun
One day I may be in jeans and a shredded T-shirt, but the next day I’m in a dress
and heels. I’m normally not in flats, though, as I’m quite petite — who doesn’t love a
little extra height?"
Vintage Hermès sweater, Marni top, vintage Levi's shorts, Céline clutch, Chloé shoes, Monique Péan jewelry.
What about for the weekend?
"I tend to wear more casual T-shirts and jeans on the weekend. Acne and Balenciaga jeans, linen T-shirts, and classic sweaters are reoccurring staples. I have also
collected some no-name sculptural pieces from Japan over the years and I love how
comfortable many of them are. They’re chic, yet easy to throw on for a quick brunch."
Besides your own designs, what are your go-tos for jewelry and accessories?
"I have a soft spot for vintage jewelry, particularly art deco rings and bracelets.
One of my favorite pieces is an art deco bracelet that my grandmother gave me as my
'something old' on my wedding day. My grandmother designed the bracelet — it is
composed of her engagement ring set on her old gold watchband. I wore it during my
wedding and have worn it almost every day since. For bags, I love Céline, Balenciaga,
and Dries Van Noten."
Who are some of your favorite clothing designers?
"Christopher Kane, Rodarte, Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Prabal Gurung, Suno, and Comme des Garçons, among many others."
You've traveled all over the place — what do you love about NYC?
"I love the variety of things that I have access to in such close proximity as well as
the energy – it is unmatched! It’s a place that is very conducive to meeting new,
Dries van Noten top, pants purchased in Tokyo, Fendi handbag, Givenchy shoes, Monique Péan jewelry.
What are some of your favorite NYC haunts?
"Giorgione and Greenwich Grill are my local go-to spots for dinner and I love to
grab drinks outside at Ear Inn. If I am in the mood for wine, I go to Upholstery Store,
which has a great selection of Austrian and European wines. I love going out to eat and
am constantly trying new spots in the city and Brooklyn."
What about local boutiques and shops?
"Aloha Rag, iF, and Rick Owens are all on my short list."
What are some of your favorite fall jewelry trends?
"Graphic and statement pieces are definitely having a moment right now…Personally, I am really inspired by art deco motifs that I’ve been seeing more of lately."
Céline top, Dries van Noten pants and shoes, Cambridge Satchel Company handbag, Monique Péan jewelry.
Do you have any tips for our readers on accessorizing?
"Focus numerous pieces in one region (wrist, hand, etc.) while not overdoing it, in
terms of quantity, in other areas."
What's the one piece of jewelry our readers need to have?
"A sculptural statement ring that transitions easily from day to night."