Written By: Carmelina Vargas
Simon Alcantara is a jewelry designer, former ballet dancer, native New Yorker, proud Dominican and member of the CFDA. When I was given the location to interview him, I was expecting a studio location with lots of traffic and models running all over the place. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as I was invited to Simon Alcantara’s home sweet home! He greeted me with a warm hug and a smile. Simon had such a welcoming presence so I immediately knew that this would be a great interview.
As I sat on his fabulous couch, I looked around and felt at ease with the cooling texture of his walls, his paintings and his life’s work. There was a relaxing scent in the air and soothing music in the background. I realized that I was in the presence of a genius. We chatted for a bit about how he chose to live downtown Manhattan. I was intrigued by what he had to say and I wanted to know his history and learn about the real inspiration behind his jewelry pieces.
CV: How did you end up designing Jewelry?
SA: I was a ballet dancer and I ended up getting invited to one of my dancer’s friend home. She made jewelry and once I was exposed to jewelry-making I knew at that very moment that it was something I wanted to pursue. I had a injury that cut my dancing career short so I focused on my time on a process that connected my soul and made me feel complete which was designing jewelry. I taught myself about the different types of stones and weaving jewelry. Eventually I made a handwoven gold hoop with stones that remains a signature of my collection.
CV: Where do you get your jewelry inspiration from?
SA: From everywhere. Music, art, photography, architecture, spiritual references, indigineous refrences, fashion etc.
CV: Who invited you to the CFDA and what was it like to be part of this organization that supports American Designers? (it is by invitation only so that must feel good to be invited!)
SA: I was invited to apply to the CFDA by Katherin Zimmerman of EX Ovo and went through the application process. I was fortunate enough to have had amazing letters of recommendation from Oscar and several other CFDA designers as well as Accessories Directors of Vogue, Elle and several other major magazines as well Bergdorf Goodman and other high end retailers. It all came together very easily and I was accepted. In my group of new members were Zac Posen, Proenza Schouler, Francisco Costa, the boys of Anthony Nak, Brian Atwood, Yigal Azrouel and a few others. It was really a strong group.
CV: You mention that the type of woman that wears your jewelry exudes power and femininity. Is that why I see a combination in your pieces with feather and stones?
SA: Yes, I like to mix the essence of stones. I believe stones derive their very own energy. When a woman chooses to wear a certain stone, this is because both their energies connect in a more spiritual world. I let it be. I like to witness that unique beauty and synergy that a woman connects on her own with the pieces I create.
CV: How have you managed to get your jewelry in so many prestigious stores?
CV: Tell us a bout your jewelry and the Asian market (you seem to be big there).
CV: Can you talk about your experience working with Oscar De La Renta (I believe he was your mentor)?
SA: I was scouted by someone at Oscar de la Renta and they set up an appointment to meet Oscar. I had been working on some pieces for my own creative project and those were the pieces I showed him and Andre Leon Talley who was also at the meeting. They both loved it and then I had 4 days to create a collection of necklaces, belts, pins and earrings. 4 days later it went on the runway and it was a huge success. At the time Oscar was also doing Balmain Haute Couture and invited me to design the jewelry for those collections as well. It was an amazing time creatively and personally and I will always be grateful to Oscar and to Andre for believing in me, encouraging me and guiding me.
CV: How did you to put together a jewelry collection in four days for Oscar De La Renta?
SA: I was driven by internal inspiration and was so inspired by the clothing Oscar was creating for the collection that I barely slept in those four days so that I could have the jewelry and belts ready for the show. It was a very exciting four days! Then on the day of the show to see the pieces on the runway show was very rewarding, it was a great experience.
As we finished up our converstation Simon takes me on a tour of his apartment and down a hallway. Photographs of his life work are showcased; a framed photo of Christy Turlington’s ELLE cover (his first cover!) , a cover of Jennifer Lopez wearing a beautiful coral necklace (pictured above) and even a picture of Merryl Streep’s hand written thank you note thanking Simon for his beautiful signature garnet hoops she wore in the movie ” The Devil Wears Prada”.
Simon also showed me his inspiration board for his new jewelry collection Dream Phase 1 & 2 which was inspired by dreams and dreamers. Check out some of the Phase 1 & 2 jewelry collection below.
DREAM PHASE 1 & 2
Glam feathers jewelry is huge for Dream Phase 1 & 2
“Mother of Pearl ” inspired jewelry from Dream Phase 1 & 2
If you are intrested in purchasing any of Simon Alcantara jewelry collection you can check out his webpage.
Photos courtesy of Simon Alcantara.