Olga Millar, top-voted style and fashion favourite for February 2016, has a thing for jewellery. Meeting a Gold Coast-based jeweller at Polo by the Sea, Olga realised that they shared many common interests, especially jewellery. Olga interviewed jewellery designer Piret Kartus about her eclectic designs that use pearls, crystal, lace, velvet and denim! Amazing stuff!
Piret Kartus is a designer who’s talents are enjoyed by amongst others, the First Lady of Estonia! Her original jewellery designs are eclectic yet classy. Think pearls, more pearls, bigger pearls and all sorts of colours with crystal, lace, velvet, denim! So yes, you should be thinking about all those things we enjoy putting into our ears, on our necks and wrists. I caught up with Piret Kartus in between her busy schedule of being a mum, designer and business owner to find out more about her and to share her story and a few images with you!
Q:Tell us how you actually got into designing jewelry and did you have any formal training?
I started designing very young, when I was about 16 and even though the things I made back then were rather badly made, they were unique enough and attracted some interest from my friends and even a few shops. After high school I studied sewing for one year in Estonia, where I was born, and then left for Brussels in Belgium to study fashion at La Cambre ENSAV, the school where the majority of European fashion houses source their designers from. Two years into my studies it became quite clear to me that I am more interested in experimenting with textiles rather than fashion cuts and I swapped to the textile department in my course. While studying I worked as an assistant for a fashion jewellery designer in Belgium to make some money. From her I learned a lot about materials and some techniques but I have never had formal training in jewellery making and I guess that is why I don’t work with metals in my designs.
Q. How did you realise your talent?
In my final year of studies I won a lace competition in Paris and I could pick any French lace company to start my apprenticeship . I picked Sophie Hallette which is the famous house who designed the wedding dress lace for Kate Middleton. I moved to Paris and started to work with them as well as a Haute Couture designer. I was working with the best and for the best high fashion houses in the world which was very exciting.
As I was working with many famous houses, I could never disclose the fact that it was my work and could not even tell which fashion house was using it. Of course I had to sign a lot of confidentiality agreements and I could never post on Facebook saying that it was my design for the textiles and lace.
My jewellery pieces, however, were all mine and I guess this is how jewellery design took over especially during the quieter times in the textile industry.
Q. What was the first piece of jewellery you ever made?
The first item I made was a bracelet when I was 16 and a famous fashion designer bought it for something like $15. It was big money for me back then!
Q. Tell us about your design style. What makes you unique in the industry?
For me textile design, fantasy jewellery and cooking is all the same! I love mixing materials,
colours and textures just like a chef creating masterpieces. Most of the time I make large stand out pieces or very dominant jewellery that is meant to be worn on its own as a statement piece. Basically you’d need only a dress and my jewelry. That’s it! ( Maybe shoes ?:))
For me the most important aspect is the materials and I use high quality materials that are mostly from Europe. A lot of them are vintage dating back to 1920’s. I also love velvet ribbons and gross grain ribbons and I try to use as much Mokuba brand ribbons as possible. It’s all about the story and each piece I make has one attached to it either in materials or the making and sometimes both.
Q. What type of person wears your jewelry?
I have had Arabian princess wear my jewelry and I have curators of a museum wear my jewelry so I guess I do have a variety of customers. Mostly they are women who know what they want and they don’t think about matching it to the clothes they have. They wear it because they love it.
As I now collaborate with different shops and designers, there are a few different styles out there and every woman should find something for her. If you wear my pieces you can’t be afraid of strangers coming up to you, because they will ask you where you got your necklace, bracelet, ear rings from. ☺
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Like all designers and creators, I like beauty and aesthetics. Sometimes I feel like I am like
Robocop who has this kind of different vision and information intake when I walk around. I get
inspiration from films, photography and interior designs. In a way we can say that I get inspired by history and my favourite époque is definitely Art Deco. You can see it clearly from materials I use and the colours I put together.
Q. If you could choose a designer, who would you collaborate with?
As I now live in Australia, I would actually like to collaborate with an Australian designer or an Australian fashion house. I enjoy collaborating with the creative and talented people which Australia has plenty of.
Q. What is like to see someone in the street wearing your jewelry?
Usually if I see someone wearing my design in Europe they recognise me, but here in Australia, I just smile at them and enjoy being incognito for now anyway ☺.
When I lived Japan, I was walking along the most expensive street in the world in Tokyo and to my surprise, I saw a dress with the ribbon decoration I had made with my little hands in the window of one of the biggest brand boutiques in the world! I could not say anything but it was one of the proudest moments in my life. Then I noticed that one of the Swarovski crystals was missing and it drives me crazy to this day!
Q. Tell us about upcoming trends in the jewelry industry?
I have no idea what the upcoming trends are. I am used to making pieces that you can wear any time and for many years. Sometimes I create something really fresh and new but my customer is not ready for that yet.
Trends change so fast and it is really a 5 minute trend market right now especially with social media. I have learned to give people what they want but staying true to myself and my own style.
I don’t want to be just a trend!