Punk-rock queen Patti Smith inspires Eddie Borgo's spring-summer 2012 jewellery collection
Ahhh, Patti Smith, the original queen of all things punk rock. She’s been credited for inspiring all sorts of artists—from singer-songwriters to visual artists to aspiring poets. Well, now you can add one more to the list—jewellery designers.
Yup, Eddie Borgo was just on the verge of brainstorming ideas for his spring-summer 2012 collection when his best friend gave him a coffee-table book about famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, which just happened to complement the book Borgo was reading at the time: Just Kids, Smith’s critically acclaimed memoir about her relationship with Mapplethorpe during Hotel Chelsea’s heyday. There’s a theme here, no?
“Absolutely,” says Borgo, who recently met with the Straight for a quick Q & A at Holt Renfrew (737 Dunsmuir Street), where a selection of his latest line is sold exclusively. “It was all about their life together in New York and them growing up as kids in the city. It’s beautiful and so eloquently written. So the two books kind of went hand in hand and I started sketching the collection.”
As Borgo explains, one of the biggest creative influences he culled from those reads was the colour purple. That’s because there’s a story in Just Kids about Mapplethorpe buying Smith a piece of jewellery she’d been eyeballing at a local store.
“It was a purple piece of jewellery,” says the New York designer, who was in town for one day to promote his latest line. “And it was a colour that throughout their relationship with one another was such a connection between the two of them. They always wrote each other on purple letterhead or gave each other purple gifts. It was a unifying colour, which is why we used lavender in the collection this season, which has gone over really well.”
One of the show-stopping purple pieces in Borgo’s Smith/Mapplethorpe-indebted series is the three-sided pyramid cuff ($355), a bold, sterling silver-coated bracelet with a large lavender dyed-glass stone as the centerpiece. Another standout is the lavender cone bracelet ($380), a strand of linked together, handset glam glass spikes—perfect for layering with other cone bracelets from his core collection or just adding a single hit of unexpected colour. lf it sounds like a sophisticated punk-rock accoutrement, that’s because it more or less is.
“It’s this idea of taking elements of street culture that may be immediately perceived as aggressive and noncovetable and then refining them through the use of jewellery technique, encrusting them with pavé crystal, insetting lavender stones, polishing them, and finishing them so that they are covetable,” says Borgo of his label’s overall concept. “So it’s creating the dichotomy between something that’s rather aggressive and something that’s slight and feminine.”
Another example of Borgo’s nod to the iconic subculture is the padlock spray necklace ($420), a West Van take on Sid Vicious’s shackle choker—only this necklace is made of countless tiny silver-plated padlocks that catch the light beautifully. Bonus: if you happen to get arrested, the cops won’t have to cut it off with pliers. That’s because, like Borgo’s other elegantly street-entrenched accessories, the spray necklace is impeccably crafted with top-of-the-line fasteners.
“Our materials may be quote unquote costume jewellery,” says Borgo, “but all of the different closure systems, link systems, and the way the assembly is done mimic fine jewellery.”