For this latest installment of the Lingerie On Film Profiles, we had the pleasure of talking to contributor Sonia Boyajian. Sonia–a longtime friend and the designer behind her namesake jewelry brand–shares her memories of enjoying fashion magazines with her mother, her path to becoming a jewelry designer, and what inspires her collections.
Do you remember how you met Araks?
My first memory of Araks was seeing her showroom on Rue St. Claude in Paris. I saw the name in the window, and I saw Araks sitting inside. I had known of her work for some time. I just felt compelled to introduce myself.
What made you want to participate in the Lingerie on Film project?
My love for Araks lingerie.
photos by Sonia Boyajian
Where did you grow up? Do you think the location has shaped you in any way?
I grew up in Los Angeles. I definitely think growing up in such a sunny city has influenced the way I see and use color.
What was your childhood like? Can you share with us how your creativity and self-expression were cultivated?
I grew up in a traditional Armenian family. I was the first generation born here so my first language was Armenian. Both my mother and grandmother had a huge influence on me. My mother was very young when she had me and was a fashion lover. I remember when we would get the fashion magazines in the mail, and I would anxiously wait for her to read it first so that I could have it next. We would sometimes read them together and give our commentary, which we still do today. My grandmother was an excellent tailor and she used to keep all the scraps of the fabric for me so we could make doll clothes together. On summer holidays I would stay at my grandmother’s house and we would go to the flee market, buy broken bits of jewelry, and bring them home and repair them to new.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional ice skater, until I realized I was in it just for the outfits.
Can you share your journey to becoming a jewelry designer? Why did you choose jewelry design over clothing, shoes or bags?
Initially I wanted to be a clothing designer. I graduated with a fashion degree from Otis and headed straight for Antwerp hoping to work with one of the Antwerp 6–particularly Dries Van Noten. As I had just moved there, and had an interest in jewelry making, I enrolled in the Academy of fine arts and starting taking jewelry courses. At the same time, I found a job in a beautiful fine jewelry shop, where I ended up working for two years, and really learned the handcraft of jewelry making. By this time I was sure that jewelry making was the path I wanted to take, and I pursued it. I made a list of all the fashion shops in Europe and visited them one by one with a small suitcase full of my jewelry. This is how it all began.
You’ve had your own brand for fifteen years now. How would you describe your jewelry?
A whimsical spin on a classic. Statement jewelry with a surrealist twist.
When you design, do you design for yourself, or is there a different woman that you keep in mind?
I almost always design for another woman, or a specific woman for whom I am making custom pieces.
You use a lot of color in your collections. Can you share about how you think and work with color? Do the colors of certain stones mean something to you?
I am not really a believer in stone therapy. I believe people feel good around crystals and rocks and in general shiny things because it gives them a sense of nostalgia. I think color can certainly spark emotions in people, but that is completely based on each individual.
Your collections are very artful–is there one artist or movement that you are particularly fond of?
Art is always my inspiration. Some of my favorite artists are Alexander Calder, Claude Lalanne, Max Ernst, Sonia Delaunay, Louise Bourgeois and Ruth Asawa. As far as movements, I would say the time between the Surrealists and the Modernists.
We’re big fans of the blog Advanced Style–so much inspiration for our future selves! Can you tell us about your collaboration with Ari Seth Cohen, its creator?
Ari and I are good friends, and one day he was over while I was making ceramics, and I gave him some clay. He is always drawing pictures of charming old ladies, and I told him to make some ladies. I helped him with the finishing and then glazed them. It is truly a labor of love, and we have so much fun working with ceramics together.
Is there a collection or a piece of work that you have done that you are most proud of?
I was really proud to work with Peter Coping while he was at Nina Ricci. It was one of my proudest moments to have the chance to make jewelry for the Nina Ricci show.
Do you have one piece that is your absolute favorite?
I love this piece for its balance and composition–I find it very uplifting.
Is there anything about how your collection is made that you would like to share?
I think it is important to know that all the elements are hand made. From the metal findings and the hand cut large cubic zirconia to the ceramic tiles and beads–each one is completely unique and hand made.
How do you stayed inspired?
I read novels, walk in nature, and see as much art as I possibly can. After that, people and my clients inspire me daily.
What is your favorite part of being a designer?
Working with other creative people.
Can you describe your personal style in three words?
Comfortable, chic, playful.
What is something you wish you knew how to do or that you are currently trying to learn more about?
Are there any principles that help guide your day, actions or lifestyle?
I divide my time equally between work, kids and husband.
Can you fill in the blank–Beauty is ________.
in the eye of the beholder.
What are you currently…
Coveting? Max Ernst books
Listening? My kids singing pop songs
Reading? The Count of Monte Cristo
Dreaming? Surrealist images
Thank you, Sonia!