A former journalist, designer Wendy Brandes‘ storytelling abilities are as strong as ever. We are thrilled that Wendy is joining us at COUTURE this year; we suspect her bold, strong, celebratory jewelry is more incredible in person than it is in pictures even, and we know that her rock n’ roll sensibilities will be a welcome addition to this community!
COUTURE: This is your first time exhibiting at COUTURE, tell us a few things you want everyone to know about your jewelry and your brand.
Wendy Brandes: I was a journalist before I became a jewelry designer, so I like to say I’m still telling stories but with metal instead of words. I’m obsessed with the real stories of powerful women, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure. For instance, two of my earliest designs were my Gloriana necklace (inspired by Elizabeth I) and my Xenobia ring (inspired by a 3rd-century queen from what is now Syria). Intimate details are what makes a story compelling, so my jewelry often features secret gems, hidden figures, and unexpected mechanical movements, all symbolic of the woman who inspired the design. Some of those features are humorous, like my Virginia Woolf Whistle necklace, which is an actual working whistle — made from one ounce of 18K gold — that pops open to reveal a tiny wolf. I call my line “Fine Jewelry for Witty People” because when people see something like that, they have a bit of a giggle.
COUTURE: Why have you chosen to exhibit at COUTURE?
WB: I’ve always aspired to make museum-worthy jewelry and COUTURE is a show where I know people appreciate and even expect to see that kind of workmanship.
COUTURE: As a first time exhibitor, what are you most nervous about?
WB: Should I be nervous? I’m really not! I’m just looking forward to letting people try on my work. I use a lot of metal in my designs and from photos alone, no one ever expects them to have so much heft. It’s fun to see everyone react to touching something as solid as my 18K gold Queen of Scots snake ring, which weighs just under 31 grams.
COUTURE: What are you most excited about?
WB: Meeting lots of new people who love jewelry as much as I do.
COUTURE: What single piece of jewelry or what collection are you most excited to present during your COUTURE debut?
WB: Not too many people have gotten to see the seven rings of my Maneater collection all together, so that’s something I look forward to. The individual designs are powerful enough on their own, but the big impact comes from seeing the complete group. I also have a brand-new medallion necklace that features a very unusual, fancy-cut black diamond. I’ll be wearing that one.
COUTURE: Have you given any thought to your Vegas “uniform” yet? What are you packing?
WB: I’m packing my New York City uniform — in other words, all black everything!
COUTURE: If a theme song could play as you entered the Wynn for COUTURE for the first time, what would it be?
WB: I asked my Eminem-loving friend Naz to pick a song for me, and she chose, Without Me. Every time I think of it, I laugh out loud because of the lyrics: “I said, this looks like a job for me/So everybody just follow me/’Cause we need a little controversy/’Cause it feels so empty without me.” A theme song needs to pump you up, right? I figure ultra-confident is the way to go.
COUTURE: Whose collection, other than your own, are you most excited to see at COUTURE?
WB: I’m a huge fan of Lydia Courteille’s bold and complex designs — I feel like she and I view the world in a similar way.