[7 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday everyone! This week we have allowed ourselves to daydream a little of a future where we can go out to restaurants, bars and even have a little dance... But if lockdown has taught us anything it is that we don’t really need a reason to fix up and look sharp. This can be something that we choose to do to make ourselves feel good, whether we are staying in, having a themed quiz night or, eventually, going out. Enter Vicki Sarge…
Vicki Sarge is a boutique based in Belgravia, London that sells stunning costume jewellery, mixing semi-precious stones with adventurous materials. Vicki Sarge has collaborated with the likes of Rihanna, Mario Testino and Net-A-Porter (we know!)
This week, we chatted to founder Vicki Sarge about her beginnings, her inspiration and how she considers sensitive skin when making her jewellery. So throw on a statement piece and keep on reading!
"I pulled inward and focused on what was important to me. Authenticity and creativity were my driving forces."
Hi Vicki! Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I grew up in Detroit - a place which has inspired me throughout my career. The music scene was phenomenal, and it was a cultural melting pot. I loved the vintage stores there and started collecting things that were a bit eccentric from a young age. My introduction to fashion was Biba in London. I loved the 1970’s take on the 1920’s.
Ah, I love that mix too! So how did you get started in the jewellery industry?
I moved to New York City in 1975 - just before Studio 54 opened. I loved it! This period had a lasting influence on my style as well. After the downfall of disco, I started Erickson Beamon with my partners in 1983. It was a completely different fashion world back then. We started making jewellery to accessorise a friend’s fashion show because we were not able to find anything we liked. Honestly, at this point you could count the number of jewellery designers on your hands. So the business snowballed as there just wasn’t anything like it. It was glamorous, a bit vintage, and well crafted.
Then, I moved to London in 1985… and London was waiting for me. The press loved Erickson Beamon and the statement you could make with our pieces. The business continued to flourish throughout the 90’s and 00’s. We would work with a lot of designers in New York, London, Paris and sometimes Milan. My partners in New York and I, both created collections which we would then sell mainly in Paris to customers around the world.
Wow! What a way to enter the industry…Studio 54 and all. I’m so intrigued by that era. So, when did you decide to start up Vicki Sarge and why? Was the timing important?
Well, the Erickson Beamon formula worked perfectly for nearly 30 years, but I was getting a bit restless. I wanted to create my own eponymous line, so I started Vicki Sarge in 2015. I continue to work with the same values and principles. Just before I started the new brand, I felt a shift happening in fashion and realised that the constant formula that had supported me through so many years was no longer sustainable. I felt disillusioned with wholesale business and trying to conquer the world with a jewellery brand. I pulled inward and focused on what was important to me. Authenticity and creativity were my driving forces.
That is really inspiring! I think many people would have continued using the formula that was working well, but the real pay-off- as you know- comes from getting out of your comfort zone…
Absolutely! We still have our workshop in the same place as our shop, where each piece is crafted by hand. That way, we are able to adjust and make any changes for each individual customer. I have realised that this is extremely important to our clientele. I think they love the support we give to them and the knowledge that each piece is crafted with love and care.
That is great to hear! Does Vicki Sarge consider issues relating to sensitive skin/allergies when manufacturing the jewellery pieces?
Over the years we have become increasingly aware of the fact that women have sensitivity to some metals. Therefore, we are making a point of adapting our designs and materials for these customers. For earrings, we can make a suede base to protect the skin and our pierced studs are highest quality hypoallergenic metal. We also offer the option of silver or gold in many of our styles.
We started by making our jewellery on suede which, of course, the sensitive customer loves. However, as we make so many designs a year, we mainly use normal brass findings. We are very careful when we source our materials to make sure that the gold and silver plating is nontoxic. No matter how careful we are, some customers will still have a sensitivity, but we can adapt by adding a ribbon or beaded closure.
It’s brilliant that you have so many alternatives and workarounds you can offer to these customers. Do you think offering these personal touches makes Vicki Sarge stand out from other jewellery brands?
I believe that is most definitely part of it. Another part is that our designs are so much about colour. It is wonderful to work with customers trying on the pieces and see what lights up on them. There is a right colour combination for most people and it’s great to hit on it. It totally depends on skin tone and hair shade, etc.
Totally! Jewellery looks so different on display as opposed to when it is on your skin. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of Vicki Sarge?
We have fun with the designs and I think this is why the pieces are still relevant. It is important to adapt and change. I feel I am very open to changes and this is one of the main reasons for my longevity.
I love that! Openness is so important when building a brand. What is your favourite thing about your job?
Still feeling a relevance in the Fashion world is one of the things I am most proud of. I am now heading towards 40 years in this business and can’t quite believe it! I am also so grateful that I still have a passion for what I create.
"'These jewels make you feel alive...and slightly dangerous.' Vivienne Becker."
I can tell! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
It varies a lot to be honest. Outside of Vicki Sarge, I have done a lot of work with Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan and a women’s jewellery group we set up in Saudi Arabia and I also do some teaching.
Wow. Clearly giving back and ‘paying it forward’ is a large part of your life. Do you think you have a work/life balance?
I try my best to!
And could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I have been so lucky to work with many brilliant designers and individuals but adorning such fabulous women with my jewellery throughout my career has been a dream come true. I have worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Paloma Faith, Lana del Rey, Elle Macpherson, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Kate Moss and Emma Watson to name a few.
And could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I have been so lucky to work with so many brilliant designers and individuals but adorning such fabulous women with my jewellery throughout my career has been a dream come true. I have worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Paloma Faith, Lana del Rey, Elle Macpherson, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Kate Moss and Emma Watson to name a few.
OMG! Talented ladies with great style seems to be a common thread then… What inspires you?
Many things! My own life, the energy of the late Seventies Manhattan nightclub scene, Eighties fashion, architecture, film and contemporary and ancient culture.
What words do you live by?
'These jewels make you feel alive...and slightly dangerous.' Vivienne Becker.
Oh, I adore that! Thank you so much for joining us Vicki!
Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: Trying...Ann Marie Organic Skincare With Sensitive Skin
PHOTOGRAPHY — Image 4- Joan Smalls wears tribal jewellery in collaboration with Mario Testino and MATE. Image by Mario Testino. All other images by Vicki Sarge.
INTERVIEW BY— Gabriela Godinho-Moxon
INTERVIEWEE— Vicki Sarge
EDITED BY— Gabriela Godinho-Moxon
AS ALWAYS ALL OPINIONS ARE OUR OWN