Lauren Besser is the talented lady behind Australian jewellery and accessories brand Maripossa. With an history in psychology and an affinity for the dynamic nature of global culture, we caught up with Besser to gain a deeper insight into the inspiration for her pieces and brand, paying specific attention to her current, 2012 collection 'La Homenaje / The Homage'.
We're really interested in how people with academic backgrounds approach the fashion industry. I understand you have a background in psychology. Tell me what made you move from psychology into accessories design. How do you think academic study can inform creative work? Do you ever find it hard working in an industry that is perhaps a little more frivolous?
I think academic study can definitely inform creative work and vice versa. My studies in psychology have undoubtedly contributed to who I am, how I process the world, the environment and the people around me. So naturally this influences my design philosophy, even if subconsciously. I never really made the move from psychology to accessory design as whilst studying I was always making something or other so it was really just a natural progression. While I was at uni, in my spare time I'd often be on the sewing machine making leather bags for friends, playing around with cutting up old kimono's or making some sort of jewellery piece. I do sometimes find it difficult to accept the frivolity of the industry, but I tend to creep so deeply into my own little world that I get lost in what I'm doing and completely forget about everything else that's going on in the industry. I think this keeps me (somewhat) balanced and sane.
On your website it mentions that a trip to South America piqued your interest in accessories design. Tell us a little bit about this trip and what was so special about it.
How long do you have?! I encountered SO much magic on this trip! I was 21, fresh from a semester of study at the University of California in Santa Cruz and went backpacking around Central and South America for 9 months. I traveled through Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina, and back and forth many times between a few of these countries as I just fell in love with them. Everywhere I went I encountered women who used some unique form of handcrafting as a means of gaining income and these were usually the most content and happy people. The trip confirmed what I already knew but wasn't confident enough to act on, that I needed to follow my passion for creating when I got back.
If you were to describe your jewellery aesthetic, what would you say?
I really don't like to pigeon hole the label - I want the public to take from it and add their own interpretation.
Tell us about the beginning point for a piece of jewellery or collection? How does your creative process start?
I'm always collecting snippets of random things. Photographs, textures, fabrics. I usually end up forgetting where I've put them but when I can I revisit these before a new collection and see what gives shape, if anything. I tend to begin a design with a sketch but more often than not when I actually begin making a piece it turns out completely differently to the sketch. I've come to make peace with the fact that I can only control the way the chain hangs and its temperament up to a point as it has a mind of its own.
Tell me a little bit about premise for 'The Homage' 2012. What were you inspired by?
'El Homenaje' is inspired by the concept of mortality, a notion I've always been intrigued by and little obsessed with. It's quite a personal collection which led me to reflect on experiences with death and loss. The pieces are particularly reminiscent of an experience I had as a teenager when I was overseas in an earthquake which shocked me to the core. Though I had experienced loss before then, the earthquake itself made me aware of my own mortality and I felt completely overwhelmed by the unpredictability and savagery of nature's elements. We all try to control so many aspects of our daily lives, I'm still unsure if this is in spite of or because of the fact that we're aware of how fragile and helpless we are when faced with the forces of nature and the inevitability of death as a course of life.
The artwork for 'The Homage' is beautiful. Telll us a little bit about shooting the look book and making the imagery.
I had a firm vision going into the shoot and the photographer and the whole team understood what I was looking for so completely. I wanted to shy away from traditional fashion photography instead hoping to achieve something more creative, something quite magical and whimsical that led to a strong identity for the label leaving an indelible visual imprint. The result exceeded my expectations and truly captures the rawness, fragility and melancholic aspects of the collection and inspirations behind it.
What artists / jewellery designers / creatives more generally are constant inspirations to you?
Hmmm...I love so many different artists and creatives. I'm particularly fascinated by artist Man Fung Yi's sculptures which she weaves out of metal. I have a few strange blogs that I often check out which the bloggers post random totally unrelated images of things they like. I love this kind of voyeurism into the mind of some stranger I'll never know or meet but somehow feel oddly connected to. Often the posts are quite thought provoking and quirky. But I'm mostly inspired from just walking down the street and taking in all the visual stimuli.
Are there any contemporary jewellery designers who think are doing amazing things?
There are lots of designers doing amazing things, especially at the moment where the line between jewellery, fashion and art is becoming more ambiguous. But I'm drawn more towards individual works as opposed to any particular designers aesthetic.
Tell us a little bit about the Australian fashion industry. Do you think it's an exciting time for Australian fashion? Are there any designers that you are particularly inspired by?
It's definitely an interesting time for the Australian fashion industry. Australian fashion designers are gaining long overdue recognition on the international platform and are being taken very seriously as strong competitors and players in the industry. I'm inspired by designers who stay true to their design ethos and pride themselves on quality and attention to detail above all else. Collette Dinnigan is one iconic Australian fashion designer that comes to mind here.
What are your future plans with Maripossa?
Watch this space.
Lauren has kindly offered up a beautiful Maripossa necklace, valued at $210 for one lucky reader. To enter, simply LIKE MARIPOSSA ON FACEBOOK and then head to OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT MARIPOSSA. We'll draw the competition THIS FRIDAY APRIL 6TH.
Here's the necklace...
...and here's Maripossa's look book and campaign for 'El Homenaje / The Homage':