“Diamonds are forever”, “Every kiss begins with Kay” – the love affair with women and jewelry is an endless one. More timeless than those ill-fated teenagers from Verona that Shakespeare wrote about long ago and more infinite than the horizon at dawn. Whether it is purchased at a store on 5th Avenue or on the corner of Canal Street, women (and some men) will always desire to adorn their bodies with jewelry as a personal statement of their style and individuality. While women (me included) drool over the rings, bracelets, earrings and other glittery trinkets we used to create the perfect ensemble, little thought is given to the artisans that create the pieces of sparkle we decorate our wrists, necks and fingers with. Designers and brands like Judith Ripka and David Yurman are recognized the world over, and I predict Verna Fogg and Vina Amor will someday be as popular as these designers and brands.
I first met Verna Fogg during Fashion Week. Not only did her drop-dead gorgeous visage stand out, her jewelry was killer too. Bold…contemporary… galvanic Verna Fogg follows a path similar to the road paved by such trailblazers as Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler, she creates wearable art. Her pieces are unique and striking and can enhance jeans and a t-shirt or a red carpet outfit. Recently, Ms. Fogg granted me the opportunity to learn more about her love for jewelry making, influences and the origins of Vina Amor.
1. Some women love shoes; others are obsessed with handbags. Have you always had a love for jewelry?
I’ve always had a passion for jewelry and accessories. For a woman an accessory adds beauty to an outfit, just like make-up adds beauty to a face. I think earrings are the best compliment to an outfit. They’re always eye-catching because people make eye contact with you first and earrings are the first accessory that is seen.
2. What was the first piece of jewelry you ever created?
The first piece of jewelry I ever created was a personally designed flame/leaf-like shaped earring out of colored vinyl. I still use some vinyl in my collections.
3. Were you inspired by any past or contemporary jewelry designers when you first started creating jewelry? If so, which ones?
I was never inspired by any other designers when I first started to create jewelry. Not that I don’t like any other designers, but I inspire myself. I think that all designers are somewhat inspired by others in some way. If it’s not the next person who inspires them, it’s other reasons like emotions or incidents that happen and ideas start to stir in their minds. I am more inspired by my many feelings than by other people. Even angry thoughts have inspired some of my designs.
Around springtime, I decided to build my brand (Vina Amor). I kept receiving calls from my local customers to make them pieces for shows, parties and dinners they were attending. And when I notice I was making money, it started to make sense to me to just make Vina Amor a business.
5. How did you come up with the name Vina Amor?
I have a mixed-race background and I wanted to infuse with some of my Spanish heritage into my brand. “Vina” means to want and to yearn for in Latin and “Amor” of course means love in French. I want people all over to want and love my jewelry.
6. How long does it take to manufacture a piece of jewelry – from concept to the finished product?
When it comes to completing one whole Vina Amor piece the shortest time can take about an hour. Time coincides with detail, so the more detailed the more time it takes. Also the more expensive it can be.
7. At this very moment, which is your favorite piece?
At this moment my favorite pieces are my Picasso collection. I have three versions of them.
8. Describe the feelings you had when you sold your first piece of jewelry.
I didn’t feel like anything because when I sold my first piece I didn’t realize I had a business on my hands. It wasn’t until I sold a few pieces that it rang bells in my head that I really have something going here. It made me feel talented. It made me start to design more for others and not just for me.
9. You mentioned in your Concrete Loop interview that you are most inspired by your emotions. Do you listen to music when you are designing? If so, what type of music do you listen to?
When it comes to the mood I am in when I am designing, I usually pop in a DVD and watch the same movie over and over again. Sex and the City 1 & 2 and The Social Network have been in heavy rotation lately. As for music I listen to all types of music. I have no particular genre that I stick to.
10. What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most about what I do is thoughts in my head becoming to a real product that I can touch and feel. The idea of creating ideas is what makes this fun. I am creating things that are directly from my imagination so it feels like I’m part of every piece that I make.
11. What fashion brands do you believe are most compatible to your jewelry?
I don’t see Vina Amor being compatible to one particular brand. It is different enough to be in a class of its own, yet versatile enough to work with any other brand when worn. I want people to wear my brand in conjunction with all types of other brands to make their appearance what they wish it to be. I want to be the icing for any type of cake.
12. New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, with Brooklyn being one of the most eclectic places on Earth. How does New York City, Brooklyn in particular influence your jewelry designs?
When ever you are somewhere and they scream out is ‘Brooklyn in the house,’ almost half of the room raises their hand. There are a lot of different styles and ideas in Brooklyn. Outside of the diverse styles of people walking around in NYC, I also am influenced by the buildings and things that are part of my everyday environment. I once made a necklace that looked like the Brooklyn Bridge. That was one of my early pieces that not too many people have ever seen.
There is no such thing as a Vina Amor woman. My vision is one that has any type of woman wearing my jewelry. So I guess technically everyone is a Vina Amor woman. And if you’re not a Vina Amor woman, I want to turn you into one.
14. Currently your jewelry line includes rings, earrings and necklaces. Will you be adding bracelets or other accessories soon?
Right now Vina Amor consists of earrings, necklaces and rings. Bracelets are now being introduced to the collection. Brooches will join the Vina Amor line as well. The will always be more to come. Ideas are limitless.
15. You have quite a celebrity following. Tell me some of the celebrities/publications that have worn/featured your jewelry?
When it comes to product placement I have had two winners from ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) Eva (Pigford) Marcielle and Jasleen Gonzalez, BET Host Rocsi from 106&Park and Dawn Richards from Dirty Money.
16. If you could choose to give one of your pieces to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sarah Palin or First Lady Michelle Obama, who would you choose and why?
If I had the honor to give any one of these women a piece of jewelry it wouldn’t be anything from my current collection. I would look at which ever individual it was and I would design a piece that complimented her as a person and match her style.
17. Are you interested in any other areas of the fashion industry?
Yes, I would love to explore other areas of fashion. But first I want to master the area that I’m currently in. Once I master this one I can focus on another.
18. Where would you like Verna Fogg and Vina Amor to be in the next five years?
I want to have Vina Amor as a household name that is well known and desired, but also somewhat exclusive. I want it to be a line of jewelry that is worn by both celebrities and normal women.
19. Besides the website, where can a consumer go to purchase your unique designs?
Currently the best way to get my jewelry is online. I have a few pieces at Supernova Boutique on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, but since I hand craft and make so many different colors and styles of certain pieces, more people like to order online to get exactly what they want.
20. Christmas is coming soon. If someone wanted to purchase one of your pieces as a gift, when is the cut off date to place an order?
With the holidays (Christmas) coming, the best way is to order a piece or pieces of jewelry by the last week of November until the first week of December to guarantee you can have it by the holidays.
Want check out more of Vina Amor? Take a look at the website, http://www.vinaamor.com/.
Photos courtesy of Verna Fogg