Greek born, London-based designer Maria Piana explores themes of power and femininity in her statement, armour-like jewellery, and has already been discovered by fashion designer Erevos Aether who enlisted her skills on his first two collections. With exhibitions in Paris and Munich lined up for the forthcoming season, Wonderland talks to the designer about influences, inspirations, and where the brand is taking her next.
How did it all begin for you, when did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I started doing jewellery four or five years ago when a friend of mine gave me some pliers and beads, I like to collect a lot of jewellery, so I enjoyed making it too. Training wise, I started by doing some evening courses at the London College of Fashion, followed by an MA at the Metropolitan University.
How does your day job, dentistry, inform your work, does it play any part?
I think it’s helpful because we work with similar materials such as metal. Both jobs require quite a bit of handy work for things like casting, recent design work has involved rings and I’ve had to carve wax which is something that you sometimes do in dentistry. I think having a stable job allows you to be more creative and not to have to worry too much about if it is going to work and am I going to sell something, it eliminates the fear, mind you, there is always going to be fear!
Your collection describes influential themes such as ‘power, assertion, sexual liberation, distinctiveness and adventurousness’ what is the significance of this and how do you feel it comes across in your designs?
I think the ideas came from the research in my thesis originally. When I did my first presentation everyone was a bit skeptical because I showed some images of Manuel Albarran’s work, one of the designers who did the metal facemasks for Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way”. People felt they were very S&M and about fetishism, but I explained that I don’t want to make something that makes women seem weaker or something that the men would be in power of…I wanted to eliminate that side of the collection and make it more about elegance and power with elements of adventurousness. Someone wearing my pieces would be a person who wants to be seen, I think jewellery should definitely be worn to be seen. ‘Empowering the potential wearer’ is the intrinsic idea behind my work. In terms of design I wanted to focus on the arm, as it is traditionally associated with power like if you make a fist, then there’s the element of wearing something on your hand so that’s really what it was about.
What are your signature pieces?
Definitely the wrist pieces, the collection for my MA was mostly these, experimenting with different forms and grips around the hand. The latest collection is about developing those ideas; a signature piece that will go into the collection starts at the hand, goes up the forearm and through to the upper arm, though I am also contemplating doing some neck pieces now. My work is about creating clean lines, and outlining the body form, I wouldn’t want anything with too much decoration, my designs are simple.
What’s new for 2012? What are you working on now?
At the moment there is definitely some more development on the current collection for AW12 as it’s been confirmed I will be having an exhibition at Paris Fashion Week, which is very exciting! We are also exhibiting at Schmuck 2012 in Munich in March (German jewellery week), which is great. In terms of design, I would like to experiment more with 3D, especially through neck jewellery, maybe creating smaller pieces but more interesting physically.
Words: Emily Cater