Hot New Jewelry Designers Reveal Their Sisterly Style Secrets

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Above: Phoebe (left) and Annette sit on their Maria Felix sofa in the company of a 200-year-old Virgin from Denmark. Phoebe wears a Boudicca top, Comme des Garçons pants, Acne heels, and an Anndra Neen gladiator cuff. Phoebe wears a vintage dress, Givenchy heels, and Anndra Neen bangles. Enlarge Image


A few months back, we were scoping out Maryam Nassir Zadeh to see what new designers the chic shop-keeper had on her radar. While her boutique always offers an eyeful, we were particularly taken with a new jewelry line by the name of Anndra Neen : unusually rustic-glamorous pieces of handmade copper, brass, and nickel-silver jewelry all hewn in Mexico. The designs--almost a cross between what you might find around the neck of Frida Kahlo or Diana Vreeland and locked behind glass at a Mayan archeological museum--reveal an uncommonly bold sort of beauty, but also the hand that made them. 


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Above: An array of Anndra Neen jewelry sits on an Alvar Aalto table in the living room.Enlarge Image

Turns out, sisters Phoebe and Annette Stephens are the young visionaries behind the collection that launched just this past spring. And not only do they conceive all their handcrafted pieces alongside a local artisan in Mexico City, they also wear their work well...very well. In fact, the two have just that sort of unconventionally inspiring style we pretty much go nuts for. Just take a peek inside their Gramercy Park apartment. Surrounded by objects, artworks, and storied keepsakes from their Mexico City upbringing as well as their famed artist-sculptor grandmother, Annette Nancarrow, the pair have created a transporting world in which to design their European, Egyptian, and Bedouin-inspired jewels. And yes, live and play dress-up, too.


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Above, left: Phoebe poses beside a wooden sculpture by Goulven Elies in a vintage purple dress, Ann Demeulemeester shoes, and Anndra Neen cone bangles. Above, right: In the closet, a stack of magazines and a shelf of colorful scarves. Enlarge Image


We know your grandmother was a great artist and designer. What or who else inspired you to start your own line?  Phoebe: "We grew up in Mexico City in a family surrounded by artists. We were always encouraged to be creative. As the only girls in a family of five, we wanted to do something together."
Annette: "Yes, our grandmother was a painter in Mexico during the '30s and '40s, and she also designed her own jewelry. She had an amazing studio in Mexico City filled with pre-Columbian figures, beads, feathers, and bones. So, we wanted to combine our love of fashion and visual arts to make a new collection that followed in her footsteps." 


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Above: In the courtyard, Phoebe wears an Electric Feathers jumpsuit. Annette wears a Claude Montana jacket dress and Anndra Neen cage choker. Enlarge Image


Each piece really reveals the rusticity and work behind the design. What's your process all about?
Annette: "It's been very organic. One of us will start with a drawing, and the other will finish or add to it. We then work very closely with an artisan in Mexico who hand-makes our pieces in a workshop. As we work, we modify our pieces on the body to achieve balance and composition. For our first collection, we took inspiration from art books, antique jewelry, architecture, street-wear, and a recent trip to Japan."


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Above: In the courtyard, Phoebe wears a Boudicca shirt, high-wasted vintage jeans, Christian Louboutin wedge shoes, a Mexican scarf, and an Anndra Neen oval cuff. Annette wears an Electric Feathers dress, Marni jacket, Anndra Neen necklace, and vintage lace-up booties. Enlarge Image


Who would you say this first collection was intended for?
Phoebe: "A woman who is in a seductive relationship with herself...the empowered woman of today."


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Above, left: A painting by the Stephen sisters' father, Luis Stephens. Center: A large nude painting by Maxwell Gordon. Right: A wooden sculpture by Goulven Elies. Enlarge Image


Your pieces often feel as though there is a journey that goes along with them...what would you say are the key inspirations when you're thinking about sketches?
Annette: "A lot of our inspiration is drawn from antique jewelry, art and architecture—although it's not intentional, we love the idea that something we are creating now is building its own history."


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Above: In the living room, Annette stands with a table of their jewelry. Enlarge Image


If your designs had a human equivalent, who would they be?
Phoebe: "The lovechild of Iris Apfel and Tilda Swinton."


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Above, left: Annette's drawing of Forest Gump running taped to the fridge. Above, right: Annette in a Norma Kamali dress, Hermès belt, Lanvin shoes, and Anndra Neen spiked bangle. Enlarge Image


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Above: In the kitchen, a flower blooms beside an old striped dishtowel. Enlarge Image


You're both into fashion as well. Which designers would you say inform your work and your own styles? 
Annette: "Again, our grandmother and designers like Calder, Art Smith, Coco Chanel, Matthew Ames, Yves Saint Laurent, and Alber Elbaz."
I could definitely see your necklaces on Alber's runway.


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Above, left: Phoebe's amazing shoe collection. Above, right: Outside the apartment, Annette wears a Chloé jacket, Dries Van Noten pants, and an Anndra Neen cage cuff; Phoebe wears an Armani jacket, vintage striped jump suit, Margiela boots, and an Anndra Neen triangle necklace. Enlarge Image


Describe your style...
Annette: "La Dolce Vita if it was remade by Yohji Yamamoto."
Phoebe: "I would have to agree!"


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Above: Phoebe leans on grandmother Annette Nancarrow's bronze sculpture in a Lanvin vintage skirt, Lost Art T-shirt, Fendi shoes, and an Anndra Neen cage cuff. The paintings adorning the bedroom are by Maxwell Gordon and her grandmother, respectively. Enlarge Image


Tell us your five key wardrobe pieces?
Phoebe: "A vintage Lanvin suit, a YSL vest, Gaultier pants, a Givenchy ruffled top, and an Electric Feathers poncho dress."
Annette: "My vintage Armani jacket, Bottega Veneta pants, Margiela strappy heels, Norma Kamali dress, and a Limi Feu top."


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Above: A wooden bookcase complete with traditional Mexican feather dusters. Enlarge Image


Our signature question: What song best describes your personal style?
Phoebe: "'Chauffeur' by Duran Duran or 'Come As Your Are' by Nirvana." Annette: "'Sugar Me' by Lynsey De Paul and 'Cause an Effect' by No Fixed Abode."


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Above: A watercolor painting by Luis Stephens hangs over antique Mexican masks. Enlarge Image


Any cheap finds of late?
Annette: "We found a pair of Calvin Klein brogues and a beautiful hooded red cape at the vintage store Metropolis."

Good thing they like to share. 


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Above: Annette and Phoebe lounge on the bed wearing Mexican caftans. Enlarge Image


Photography by Kava Gorna, www.kavagorna.com

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