Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring forward with a Bohemian-inspired wardrobe

Peace, love and happiness. Spring weather simply commands liberation, unapologetically. Say goodbye to your wool sweaters and trousers and knee-high boots and hello to flower-induced spring dresses, cork wedges, and cross-body strapped purses. Capture that spirit by springing forward with a Bohemian-inspired wardrobe a la eco-chic fashion.

For Her – dress, shoes, handbag, and Melissa Lew necklace from Cherry Blossom collection

Calypso St. Barth

Calypso’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection builds upon the brand’s appeal to the global woman with clothes and accessories perfect for cherry blossom viewing. It boasts light-weight trousers, long tees, and maxi and knee-length cotton dresses. Personal favorite is the Lourdes dress, all-figure flattering with a flower print, pockets and capped sleeves.

Calypso is sold at Ginger.

Katie Kalsi Handbags

Designer Katie Kalsi channels her Bohemian spirit into a collection of handbags that are both whimsical and bold. The minimalist sneaks in with limited shapes and colors (boho, doctor, messenger, and clutch) but teased with touches of rivets, fabric choice, or hardware such as solid brass and nickel. Kalsi’s “IT” bag is the interchangeable strap bag featuring signature designs from her contemporary art – a favorite among entertainment celebrities.

Far from the Hollywood glitz, Kalsi works in a converted barn on her parents’ estate in Tennessee. There, she develops the concept which is then sent to production in factories in both Texas and New Jersey. The Kalsi collection is sold online and in specialty boutiques.


Slip into a pair of Salpy clogs and tread lightly on Mother Earth. Husband and wife duo Salpy Kalaidjian and Kevork Kalaidjian create designer women’s shoes made with feather light wood bases and hand-tooled leather. Salpy shoes are available as high heels, clogs, and slides. Opt for bright colors such as “ocean” and mango.

Salpy is sold at Simply Soles.

For Him – trousers, shoes, and cuff

Panda Snack and Red Engine

Wear your eco-sensibilities with Panda Snack sportswear. The husband/wife designer duo produces a collection of polo shirts, jackets and trousers made from bamboo.

Up the cool factor with a pair of vintage denim jeans by Red Engine. The LA-based company may import denim from across the pond (Europe) but keeps production at home.

Panda Snack and Red Engine are sold at Caramel.

TOMS Shoes

Spread the love every time you wear your TOMS. Founder and head designer, Blake Mycoskie, donates a pair of TOMS shoes to children in developing countries for every pair sold. Choose from the new vegan collection, shoes made from a blend of recycled products, faux suede insoles and rubber outsoles. TOMS is sold at Nordstrom, Sassanova, Shoe Fly and online.


Local designer John Davis takes vintage belts and other second-hand leather and fashions into edgy cuffs. Fisticuffs is sold at Meeps Vintage.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jewelry Designer Spotlight: Mojee Design

It is 10 p.m. and Mojee Shokri’s creative juices begin to percolate. The luxe jewelry designer retreats to her design studio to mull over an inventory of semi-precious stones and fresh-water pearls scavenged from her travels in Southeast Asia, Turkey, and Iran. She remains steadfast weighing her options until inspiration strikes and the pattern is sketched in memory. Only then does she call it a day – as dawn breaks.

Shokri’s non-traditional work hours suit her personality and equally her collections: bold and ambitious. Her restless spirit led her to DC from Iran to study ten years ago and one art class later, she found her vocation as an artist.

She honed her skills in photography and painting before perfecting her craft in jewelry design. The only thing missing was her enterprise.

In true entrepreneurial-fashion, she knocked on the doors of the nation’s capital most reputable jewelry stores and introduced herself to Washington’s elite.

“I was young but persistent,” says the now 30-year-old. “If you love what you do then you just have to get yourself out there.”

Her collections are sold at Keith Lipert Gallery, Wink, and Muleh, and have been featured in Lucky, DC Modern Luxury, and Washingtonian Magazine, the latter crowning her as one of DC’s most beautiful people.

“Like my collections, I tend to have an eye for unique pieces, whether it is shoes, clothing, or jewelry. I describe my own personal style as chic and edgy. I always like to include a touch of something unique to accent what I’m wearing, just as my designs tend to have a touch of flare that makes the jewelry standout,” Shokri says.

When she is not attending to her jewelry (all produced by hand), she consults with her sister in Iran regarding their wedding planning business or scours artisan markets in remote parts of the world or studies the latest trends.

Shokri’s spring/summer 2010 collection, available online, borrows from Roman architecture and decadence reined in by softer colors and one statement stone or pendant.

“The collections evolve over time,” Shokri says. “But this season’s pieces are some of my most proud designs.” Just another’s day work.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Earthworks cites eco-luxe jewelry designer Alberto Parada in recent report

In February, Earthworks released its findings on how jewelers and retailers fared in ethical sourcing of metals. The DC-based advocacy group behind the No Dirty Gold Campaign rated 39 jewelers between February and October 2009.

Among the small jewelry designers was Alberto Parada. The award-winning eco-luxe designer received a B grade, which translates to 11 points earned in 16 areas. His signatory to the No Dirty Gold Campaign puts him in the company of 20 retailers and designers in the small to medium-sized jewelers category. Brilliant Earth earned top billing with 13 points (grade A).

The signatories of the No Dirty Gold campaign’s “Golden Rules” principles agree to use cleaner gold suppliers. These suppliers must adhere to 10 tenants of protecting workers, communities and the environment. Parada uses 100% recycled gold and buys metals and diamonds from certified mines in Canada. His gems are sourced from Brazil in raw and cut locally.

In two-short years, Parada has gained national attention for his luxurious line thanks to collaboration on the runway with leading fashion designers and features in national publications such as Organic Spa and Boho. For the former jewelry appraiser turned designer, the real achievement is raising the profile of eco-jewelry.

“It is not enough to educate retailers on the importance of sustainable jewelry, but the consumers must be equally aware,” the DC designer says.

Consumers have played a critical role in exposing the fashion industry’s supply practices through anti-sweatshop and “shaming” campaigns. The jewelry industry is not indifferent to the repercussions of societal impacts. Earthworks’ depiction of the gold industry as “one of the dirtiest industries” is supported by claims that the average large gold mine uses 1,900 tons of cyanide per year and a single gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste.

“It is amazing the amount of waste that occurs,” Parada echoes. “I choose to use recycled gold because I believe it is the right thing to do.”

In addition to signing the Golden Rules (GR), Parada has conduced a supply audit, shared the audit results with the No Dirty Campaign, and incorporated the GR into his policies and contracts.

The self-taught designer carries that spirit of transparency into the design process from the initial sketch to the goldsmith’s touch. His sketches are a study in architecture and color – a Frank Lloyd Wright meets Georgia O’Keefe – creating a visual for honesty and self-expression. The “Roman” ring, in particular, demonstrates the harmonic blend of three gold bands (yellow, white and rose) fastened by a strip of three inset diamonds, perhaps a symbolic gesture for creating a platform for different worldviews working toward a common good.

In May, Parada will launch his spring/summer collection with an unveiling at Mystique Jewelers. The collection boasts more rose gold, moonstone, and onyx, the latter a new addition to Parada’s oeuvre of stones.

To learn more about Earthworks, visit their Web site and download the Tarnished Gold? Assessing the jewelry industry’s progress on ethical sourcing of metals report.