Kieselstein Cord - As If
In the mid 1970s, a new era of high fashion was born on the disco-fuelled dancefloors of New York City’s most glamourous nightclubs. Designers like Halston and Diane Von Furstenberg were making innovative halter-neck and wrap dresses for stylish women as fashion and music collided in a haze of a glitter and a celebration of conspicuous extravagance. Against this feverish backdrop, jeweller and artist Barry Kieselstein-Cord developed a company that would go on to define American Luxury. In the twenty-first century, if the word “luxury” still evokes dusty recollections of Europe’s oldest and most fastidious fashion houses, then Kieselstein-Cord is that rare thing, a luxury brand with an all-American outlook and an influence spanning five decades at the forefront of fashion.
Inspired by the verdant beauty and diverse greens of the American landscape, Kieselstein-Cord has historically created iconic collections of jewels and accessories that reflect on the essence of nature. By approaching hardware like belt buckles as jewellery, and by reimagining jewellery as art, Kieselstein-Cord’s designs have set new precedents in the world of luxury. Having graduated from Parsons School of Design and the American Craft Institute, the designer first made waves in 1960s Manhattan as an art director and creator of forward-thinking advertising campaigns. While his work appeared in publications like Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, the creative instinct that had driven him since childhood prevailed when he made the decision to retrain as a jeweller. Initially working with reclaimed plastic and discarded natural materials such as deer-horn and leather trimmings, Kieselstein-Cord’s first big sale allowed him to create a full-scale collection of sterling silver jewellery. His designs were stocked in the fine jewellery department of the New York store, Jensen’s, and quickly gained an international following of high-flying tastemakers. By 1973, Kieselstein-Cord had been asked to design a sterling silver skull necklace for Mick Jagger’s thirtieth birthday, a seminal piece that cemented the company’s reputation as the jewellery brand of the moment.
In the coming decades, Kieselstein-Cord continued to innovate, exploring whimsical natural themes and applying his trademark fauna inspired embellishments to accessories, handbags, and furniture. Launched in 1997, the Kieselstein-Cord eyewear collection built on that instantly recognisable aesthetic, fusing the designer’s whimsicality with beautiful materials and superior optical technology. A vintage rarity, As If is an oversized sunglass that gently wraps the face, channelling the classic glamour of so many 70s style icons. Intricate butterfly motifs on the temples are signature, sterling silver embellishments that enhance the elegant, full-acetate frame. The striking, two-tone colourway is part of the Latte series, with dark espresso on the frame front and temples contrasted with a soft, marbled cream on the frame’s reverse. Including the original sun lenses, but fully adaptable for RX requirements, this mint-condition sunglass is a beautiful example of the designer’s signature take on refined luxury.
Barry Kieselstein-Cord’s early ambition was to build an, “indelible American brand”. Today, his classic designs still appear on the pages of cutting-edge fashion magazines all over the world. That continued relevance as a style inspiration is a testament to the designer’s ground-breaking and enduring artistic vision.