“It’s the opportunity to explore ideas and ways of working I wouldn’t have come to on my own. It’s like learning a new musical instrument” explained Dominic Jones, about his recently appointed role as creative director of Astley Clarke. Marking his return to London Fashion Week earlier this year, three years after his final collection under his eponymous label, Jones’ presentation, the first for Astley Clarke, consisted of three separate but interconnected parts.
Drawing on the house’s tradition of looking to the natural world for design inspiration, and taking light as its central theme, the triptych of one contemporary and two fine jewelry collections reflects the motivation behind the creative director’s work of creating jewelry for the fashion-conscious. We sat down with Dominic to find out a little more about the intricate sources of inspiration behind the three individual parts of the collection, the designer’s favorite pieces, and the models who starred in the campaign, who are all personal friends.
COLOUR OF CALDER
The contemporary Colour of Calder collection, modelled by Alice Dellal, reflects the emotive and artistic response to light; shadow, color and gravity. Inspired by the modernist art movement and the pioneering kinetic work of American sculptor Alexander Calder, pieces crafted from mixed metals in unexpected shapes are combined with 18ct gold and rhodium finishes and feature unconventional combinations, such as pink opal with rose, malachite with yellow, and onyx paired with black rhodium. With a focus on both color and shape, this collection pairs Jones’ fondness for form with Astley Clarke’s signature bright hues.
“My favorite piece from Colour of Calder would have to be the Lapis Peggy necklace, named after the eccentric art collector Peggy Guggenheim”, Dominic explains. “My mother wears a lot of Lapis Lazuli and my earliest memories of jewelry are of her lapis rings and necklaces, this necklace really reminds me of her.”
“Alice is such a big part of my life and career, she was my business partner and modelled in my very first collection campaign I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate for my first collections in my new role”, he adds.
This solar system-inspired fine jewelry collection draws on the individual planets, a familiar Astley Clarke reference found by the designer when researching past collections such as ‘Interstellar’, ‘Cosmos’ and ‘Superstar’. Each planet is represented by a carefully considered stone choice, including Labradorite for Jupiter and a flat sliced Ruby for Mars, with a scattering of diamonds capturing the essence of stars and a pearl suggesting the Moon orbiting the Earth.
Dominic's favorite piece from the Astronomy Collection is the Earth Pendant. “It's made from pave sapphires set to show the gradient of the planet, with grey and white diamonds to be the North and South poles, the land is made from traditional handmade glass enamel in emerald green, single diamonds are set at random into the chain and finally a white pearl to be the moon. We’re also donating 10% of the sales of the pendant to the amazing wildlife conservation charity World Land Trust to protect the most endangered and beautiful parts of our planet.”
Dominic and the collection's muse, celebrated London-based model Adwoa, have been friends for years. “We’ve seen each other through highs and lows, I have so much respect for her and what she is trying to do with her work promoting mental health. She was the face of my 9th collection of DJ. As soon as I had finished the designs for Astronomy I could see it on Adwoa, the eclecticism and color I felt was just very her.”
The fine jewelry of ‘Phototaxis’ takes its inspiration from the manner in which moths are drawn to light. Interestingly, and demonstrating another firm nod to the brand and its heritage, company founder Bec Astley Clarke’s grandfather Sir Cyril Astley Clarke, a geneticist, helped cure Rhesus Disease, which affects pregnant women, through his research into winged insects.
The strikingly modern yet delicate pieces, modelled by Georgia May Jagger, seek to capture the essence of Art Nouveau jewelry, with traditional glass enamelling and hand-painted golds, and inset diamonds paired tonally in distinctive gradients. “If I had to choose one piece to represent the collection I would chose the Crimson Speckled Moth Hoop Earrings. At first glance these appear to be quite simple, but are actually incredibly detailed, the lower wings have white diamonds pave set into white gold next to grey diamonds in settings that have been hand black-rhodium plated. The top wings are polished yellow gold and have been etched so that red diamonds and black diamonds in black rhodium settings can be set level with the surface. The body is cast from carving I did by hand and is rose gold, the hoops are black-rhodium plated, with a sphere of moonstone which the moth is flying towards”, Dominic details.
“Georgia and I have been friends for a long time, and we had tried on a few occasions to work together on a DJ collection campaign, but with timings it just never managed to work, which I now see as fate. When we were shooting this collection which is inspired by the research work Bec’s grandfather did in curing Rhesus Disease, as I was talking Georgia through the pieces, it turned out that her mother had been a rhesus negative baby and Georgia wouldn’t be on this planet if it wasn’t for Sir Cyril’s work! So it was meant to be!”