Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview with Makoto Jewelry

Before I would move to New York City, before starting a blog and before I would meet one extraordinarily talented jewelry designer, I was an Anthropology student at the University of Colorado. What exactly is Anthropology? Its what people do and why they do it in the context of ceremony, beliefs, relationships and the material culture created in response to these practices. It can range form subjects related to language, religion or even daily activities, but what separates it from other social and human studies is the connection to the materials created in these contexts. The desire for art and expression, adornment and fashion is a uniquely human trait that can be found in every culture both past and present. 

The jewelry made by Makoto Chiba resonates with the very essence of our human need to create and to wear things with which we may express our culture and our identities of self. It feeds our insatiable need for stories, inspires creatures, suggests a realm of the fantastic, moving the imagination to new places once forgotten. Each collection transports us to a world suspended in time, linked to the ancient past of Japan, yet infused with the ornate decor of Baroque Europe. 

I met Makoto, the designer of Makoto Jewelry about 4 years ago and was given the opportunity to model for his second collection "The Chronicle". This Spring I again had an opportunity to meet, this time for an interview about the process and inspirations behind the collections. 

Editorial Images by Kei Kondo 
All product and editorial images are the property of Makoto Jewelry 
Please do not re-use without receiving prior permission

Makoto Chiba originally began making Jewelry in Japan. His collections were featured in shops in New York, and Seven years ago, he moved to New York where he is currently based. 

Makoto hand-makes all of his jewelry and accessories. First a design is hand carved in wax for each component of the item. Next, molds for the castings are made. Once the castings are all finished, he assembles the final pieces together. I asked him how long it takes from start to finish; he said it depends on the size and complexity, but it could take anywhere from 5 hours to 1 week to make a piece. 

He primarily designs for men, but does make pieces for women, although I feel that a lot of the men's pieces are so stunning and unique that they could easily be borrowed by women too. He uses precious gemstones and metal materials for the collections including silver and gold, rubies and diamonds. 

The inspiration for his designs is one of my favorite parts. You can find Japanese mythological creatures, Tibetan symbols and western legends all intricately detailed in the style of baroque art and architecture. Many of his inspirations come from his travels throughout Europe. His most recent collection Dance of Death was inspired by "Momento Mori", a trend popular in the 14th to 15th Century.

Makoto Jewelry specializes in hand made custom pieces and also collaborates with the brand including Ruffian. 

Rooster Broach


A comparison of a Japanese inspired wax mock up with finished silver lighter 

The Dance of Death Collection

Sword Earring
Chimera Mask with Girl Skull Ring
Chrysanthemum Bracelet

Warhorse Broach

The Chronicle Collection

Seahorse with Skull Necklace
Dharma Necklace 
Karashishi Ring

The Iconic Collection

Frame Ring
Elizabeth B Skull Concho
Nine Lives Ring B/W Finishing
Single Horn Oni Ring
Lion Bracelet

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


While my photography and style are usually rooted in vintage from the 1920s to the 1970s with a focus on the 40s and 50s, I love to experiment and try new looks from antique to modern. My attention span is constantly flickering between flappers and gogo dancers, ball gowns and play suits, lipstick shades of the 1980s and 1950s beauty marks. With so much rich fashion history to choose from, it an be difficult at times, but I do try to remain focused. 

For this week's post, I wanted to combine a slight play on 1920s hair and makeup with a sort of early America Shakespearean twist. Since Shakespeare's plays were based on Greek Mythology, what better back drop than the Greek inspired early architecture of New York City. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Playing Doll

"Hey, hey, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rain barrel
Into my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends
Forever more, more, more."

While Barbie's look, size, shape, makeup, friends, clothing and popularity have changed much over the past 60 years, the original Barbie of the 1960s will forever be a style icon. Of course once I decided to go with a doll or mannequin theme this week, Barbie was the first inspiration that came to mind.

Perfect in use with retro Barbie, I have been dying to use some blue eye shadow, which seems to be rising in popularity as of late. Blue eye shadow can be really scary, but as long as you commit to a full, put together look, you can pull it off. If you arent sure, try starting with a blue lined cat eye instead of black, or a sheer iridescent turquoise shadow. There are so many possibilities for adding color your pallet this summer.

When I posted a preview of this post on instagram, I got a lot of requests for a hair tutorial which I had posted on my YouTube channel awhile back. You can find it here.

Photography: Laura Okita

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Making Vintage Modern with Zara: Festival Season

Braids, bases and desert sand,... sandals, sunscreen and rock'n'roll, Coachella will soon be kicking off the festival season this weekend on the West Coast, to be followed by hundreds more, including the Governors Ball mid summer here in New York. The weather is warming up and the summer concerts are here. As the fans and festivals grow larger, so do the fashion trends that follow them and the celebrities that attend them. 

Festival fashion is contagiously making its way into the stores and magazines not only for the die hard groupies of June and July. Many brands focus year round on a festival inspiration and more are carrying a great summer line wearable for any day, full of billowy silks, fringed details and geometric prints.  

In this second post in the Making Vintage Modern series, I combined a vintage 1950s silk kimono jacket with this silk jumper from Zara. Vintage jackets, swing coats and kimonos are one of the easiest way to add a personal touch to a modern look. They are great for the summer, protecting from sunburn and adding interest outside of the usual cardigan. Along with this look, for my hair I did two traditional pinup front rolls but with a twisted hair texture. My necklace is from Foxy Jewelry and earrings from Anthropologie. Join in the summer fun with modern vintage. 

Photography: Laura Okita