For an accessories designer, Bliss Lau manages to provoke a lot of questions. You might look at one of her signature body-chain pieces and wonder if it's delicate feminine jewelry or aggressive bondage wear — or both. You might even wonder if it's art. Whatever it is, you'll sure be looking. Ogling, actually.
Yes, there's no avoiding the Honolulu native's handbags, pearl gowns, onyx headdresses, or other body-adorning objects once you're in the room with them. The same could be said for Lau. As fiercely intellectual as she is ambitious, Lau makes it clear in her words and deeds that she doesn't just want to make and sell her S&M-style, leather-strap dresses and angular multitiered rings. She wants to rile you up, turn you on, and force you to ask if that really is a dress in front of you. Don't worry, it's okay to stare.

The biggest challenge I've ever faced
"As a designer, I have to constantly reassess, and there's a moment of truth each season based on the response of the product. I'm constantly asking myself if I should listen to the public if a design receives a bad response, or do I refuse to listen and make people hear me? In the case of the original body-chain collection, I got nothing but push-back for the first few seasons but refused to give up. Now after my years of suffering for this concept, the body chain is part of our jewelry vernacular."


How I find balance
"I schedule time to draw for four to five hours a week. From the age of three, my mother, an artist and teacher, brought along a sketchbook with me to every occasion. From my youngest memory, I've been expressing myself through drawing. Also, lately, I've been squeezing my own green juice in the morning before work. It's a 10-minute process, but I feel like I've already accomplished something healthy first thing in the morning. Love that. Finally, I keep almost no trace of work inside my home!"


What I see as the future of fashion
"I foresee independent designers using 3-D printing technology to custom-make each piece of jewelry. I dream of creating and printing a custom piece, like, say, a unique chain for each of my clients. I think combining new technologies with age-old craftsmanship will force us to ask a lot of questions of each other. Ultimately, I want to advance what people define as jewelry. For instance, I consider my body pieces to be a form of sensual armor. When you put one on, it transforms you. It feels fantastic!"


Alaïa Vintage Blouse; Vintage Black Suede Pant; Tibi Evie Heel, $450, available at Tibi;
Bliss Lau Fathom II Ring, $2,655, available at Bliss Lau; Bliss Lau Gold Collar, shop similar styles at Bliss Lau.

Hair by Bethany Brill; Makeup by Ashleigh Ciucci; Styled by Laura Pritchard

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