There are few things more stylish than a true eccentric. Unfortunately, there are fewer things harder to cultivate than true eccentricity.
From Boho starlets wearing caftans twice their size to all the wannabe Edie Beales in layered leotards, many try to mimic the natural, unexpected, and spontaneous style of a genuinely unconventional mind. Most, however, just wind up looking like a walking hamper.
Thankfully, even the plainest Jane can always turn to square pegs like jewelry designer Julia Muggenburg for a spot of eye-catching whimsy.
"Jewelry is to the wearer what an exclamation point is to a sentence," says Muggenburg from the London studio where she creates her renowned Belmacz line of oversized, jewel-encrusted bangles and outsized pendants. Indeed, not only are Muggenburg's pieces added punctuation to any style statement, but these surprising arrangements of gold, precious stone, and fossilized dinosaur bones are often stories in of themselves. A familiar charm secretly contains the tusk of a 30,000-year-old woolly mammoth. A simple length of gray agate gains mystery thanks to a seemingly random arrangement of red stones. Each Belmacz piece appears to have its own way of making sense, its own personality, the logic behind which the inscrutable Ms. Muggenburg keeps to herself.
"I am an experiment of my parents—a female flâneur," jokes the Saint Martins graduate whose mind, by her own admission, "spent most of the time outside the classroom." "I am decisive and quick," she says of the creative process that has yielded everything from pre-Columbian-style bracelets to rose quartz dice. "A revelation stays a revelation. My work is not about effect, I just want you to fall in love." And people have been falling head over heels for this genuine eccentric's wares from New York, where Barneys has kept her in stock, to Tokyo, where even the Japanese don't exactly know what to make of her.
A revelation stays a revelation. My work is not about effect, I just want you to fall in love."—Julia Muggenburg, Belmacz
When asked what the future holds for her burgeoning line, Muggenburg characteristically answers, "We will grow upward and sideways, expanding with love." It's an appropriate corkscrew course for a craftswoman whose wears are the perfect way to add a couple curves to even the straightest styles.
Belmacz is available in London at Belmacz, 52 Mount Street, Mayfair, +44 (0) 207 629 7863, and in New York at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue, (212) 339 7300. For more information, go to www.belmacz.com
Portrait by Kevin Mackintosh
Reading the exclamation point in the London-based jewelry line, Belmacz.