A Fun Q&A with Art Nouveau-Influenced Jewelry Designer Philippa Holland
If your tastes in bling are as extravagantly fabulous as you - and extend (way) beyond the boring...er *tasteful* - please meet the super-talented Philippa Holland who is proof positive that high-quality handmade fine jewelry can easily walk on the wild side - as in blackened silver bumble bee rings with sapphire eyes, a silver and gold moth & spider pin with brown diamonds, a stunning golden beetle pendant necklace, a brass bangle fashioned like an antler & striking diamond-encrusted moth ring.
After studying at The Gemmological Institute in London and "The History of Jewellery" at Sothebys, Holland launched her eponymous line, drawing inspiration from the Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th century - which celebrated the organic, curvy forms in flowers and plants - as well as writers and poets (including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dylan Thomas, e.e. cummings, Edgar Allen Poe, Alphonse Mucha), her travels around the world & an ongoing interest in Eastern philosophies (not surprising, given that Art Nouveau was itself strongly influenced by the Japanese wood-block prints of Katsushika Hokusai).
We were super lucky to get a chance to do a Q&A with Philippa, thanks to a fabu hookup from the lovelies at LUX FIX, which features the coolest British fashion buys & hottest local talent...like Ms. Holland!
FASHIONTRIBES: On your worldwide travels, where was the most interesting destination you landed?
PHILIPPA HOLLAND: I think probably Burma. It was about 2 years ago and the country was still very much under military regime. I traveled with a guide for 3 weeks on my own. I stayed in Buddhist monastry for a week and took a vow of silence. The meditiation was strict and from 4am until 9pm - stopping for only a few hours for meals etc. The compassion I felt from the nuns was life changing. For the rest of my time in Burma I visited many extraordinary places and in 2 weeks I saw less than a handful of tourists. I had no access to email or phone reception as that is the state in which the Bumese are controlled. I never felt lonely because of the warmth and generosity of spirit of the people.
FT: What makes your jewelry unique?
PH: I use a process taken from Renaissance ceramicist Bernard Palissly called "casting from life" - I am not aware of anyone else who does that.
FT: Of all the collections you've done, do you have a favorite?
PH: "Ode to Artemis". Artemis, being a Greek goddess, is very connected to nature and profoundly powerful. The collection reflects her spirit with delicate yet evocative pieces, such as the Moth & Spider pin, which shows both the dark and light side of nature
FT: With which other jewelry designers or brands are you typically compared?
PH: I am not sure, perhaps, that I am compared to any....obviously I have my heroes, mainly from the Art Nouveau period, such as Lalique & Georges Fouquet.
FT: What was the coolest comment(s) you've ever heard about your work?
PH: I get some very touching emails from clients who have been emotionally moved by my work. One in particular from Lily Allen during a difficult time in her life.
FT: You look to writers and poets like Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allen Poe & e.e. cummings for inspiration. What is it about these artists that help feed your own creativity?
PH: Poetry seems to encapsulate a vibe or feeling - without always understanding the words you understand the emotion. It contains an essence. This is what I hope to achieve with my jewellery.
FT: Which historical personage or celeb-type - living or dead - would you most love to see adorned in your designs?
PH: At the moment Philippa of Hainult, consort of Edward the 3rd.
FT: What is the main message that you hope people take away from your work?
PH: Nature is the key to everything. It is perfect.
FT: And lastly, please share a fun factoid people would be surprised to know about you.
PH: I am hoping to become a dairy farmer in West Dorset.
Be sure to check out all of Philippa's various collections at PhilippaHolland.co.uk.
- Lesley Scott