Among the denizens of the jewelry obsessed in New York and beyond, there lives a special sort of bauble addict, the person who can look at any chain, earring, or bracelet in his or her collection and immediately become struck by its symbolic power. While some pieces may recall a moment or person, others carry a deeper message—a unique life force, not unlike that of the wearer herself.
In her year-old jewelry line, Made Her Think, Williamsburg-based designer Meredith Kahn wields the idea of meaning and story-telling in much the same way other craftspeople might simply use raw materials. "I've always been drawn to things with history," says Kahn. "Things that have a heavy emphasis on the meaning behind what they are and what they represent." Kahn, who first started out in fashion (she attended FIT and later worked and traveled the globe designing for Old Navy) arrived at jewelry making quite by surprise. "I always thought I would end up doing something with clothing," she says, recalling her first store on Avenue B where she sold her own line along with leather accessories.
Hence, a path without formal jewelry-making training seems to have worked in her favor, giving each piece a sense of playfulness; dense bunches of tiny skulls and stones, thick, voluptuous chains, and ethereal silver wings all evoke a personal, feminine quality, one that begs a piece to be worn again and again. This brand of wearable elegance has garnered Kahn high praise from the likes of Vogue as well as the buyers at some swank retailers such as Ron Herman in Los Angeles.
Photography by Bill Phelps, www.billphelps.com
Her newest collection named Love or Perish (inspired by a Thoreau quote) celebrates Kahn's love of contrasts. "There are lot of references to opposites and irony," says Kahn. "I love that sense of dichotomy, accenting a big silver bow with a tiny Tibetan skull." Kahn primarily uses sterling silver, 14-karat gold, and 18-karat gold-plating. She also returns often to two favorite elements—freshwater pearls and resin charms—along with a few strokes of turquoise and raw bits of chain. "There's definitely a romantic quality to a lot of these pieces," explains Kahn. Keys have also been a recurring symbol in the designer's previous collections, but an explanation from the designer of the talisman's meaning feels undeniably tied to the line itself. "To me, keys symbolize a hidden treasure," beams Kahn. "They can open a door and lead to something. A whole world beyond."
Made Her Think designer Meredith Kahn shows us that there's more to beautiful jewels than just charms and clasps.