Soleé Bernice Alice Darrell was born in Bermuda and raised between New Jersey and California. She studied Silversmithing in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico under the legendary Billy King.
Soleé's inspiration comes from “The universe”. Every item is a one of a kind talisman, made by her with her two hands and all have individual personalities. The story for the LookBook is a creative collaboration between Soleé and photographer Asher Moss.
You can follow Soleé on Instagram at @soleedarrelljewelry
POST SHOOT INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER SOLEÉ DARRELL
Damaged: Please tell us when you started your brand Soleé Darrell Jewelry and what made you want to start the brand?
Soleé Darrell: I started my brand about 3 years ago. I had just come back from living in Mexico and learning how to work with silver. I fell in love with making jewelry and I just started making as much stuff as I could. I initially was just making stuff for myself and then people started asking me if they could buy my pieces. The whole thing organically happened and before I knew it I was running a business.
Damaged: Tell us about your experience studying your craft with the master in the Art of jewelry, Billy King?
Soleé: I studied with Billy for 6 months and it was the greatest experience of my life. Billy taught me everything from the ground up. I had no experience working with metal and I had no idea if I would even like the process. Billy makes you feel like anything is possible. No matter how big or small there is never a "no", it's always a "Yes, let's fucking do it kid". Billy's teaching structure allows for so much freedom and it breeds creativity. I'm so glad that I learned in that environment because I feel like I bring that element into every piece I make. Also, San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful place and I dream about going back every day.
Damaged: Why was becoming a silversmith important to you?
Soleé: I have loved jewelry my whole life and had always felt limited by beading and other jewelry making processes. Silversmithing was this far fetched skill that I never thought I could learn. After I graduated from college I reached a point where I felt like it was now or never and I went to Mexico on a whim. Becoming a silversmith means so much more to me than just being able to work with silver. It's a skill that I sought after and learned and it's a part of my identity now. Working with silver is a form of therapy and has taught me problem solving skills as well as built my confidence in myself.
Damaged: What natural forms, patterns and traditional culture is this new collection inspired by?
Soleé: This collection was inspired by the idea of the unknown and space. I had an image of this alien woman in mind and she spoke to me about what she needed. If she just landed on a new planet what would she need to feel confident and beautiful. I was drawn to circles a lot and repeat open spaces. I love this collection because they are comfortable pieces that can be worn everyday but they also pack a punch and carry a lot of energy.
Damaged: How was the collaborative process like working with photographer Asher Moss for this new look-book and how did you meet?
Soleé: Working with Asher was a dream. We met on Instagram. I have been a long time fan of his work and when I started the process of putting together the look-book, he was first in my mind.I reached out to him and I was so stoked and excited that he was into my work and concept It was amazing bouncing ideas off of him and I felt like he understood exactly what I wanted without me even saying it. The whole process was so inspiring and I am filled with gratitude.
Damaged: What goes into the creation of each one of your individual handcrafted pieces?
Soleé: It always starts with the materials. I love re working scraps and putting shapes and lines together to see what feels right. If I'm doing a custom piece I try and get as much information from the client about who they are and what they need. I always start by asking what does your dream ring look like? From there I pick the stones and start building around it.
Damaged: Does each one of your talismans have a symbolism?
Soleé: Since I don't sketch, my designs are based on intuition and there is a bit of the universe in each piece. Whatever flows out is what you get. I try and make each piece as powerful as I can and because I love grouping shapes and lines together my pieces can take on a totem feel. This collection was based off of space and the unknown so a lot of the pieces are named after amazing things that happen in space.
What’s your damage?
Soleé: I would say some major damage that I have is not fitting in anywhere. I've moved around a lot in my life and I've started over and rebuilt so many times. No matter where I move I always feel like I'm an outsider looking in. It's hard for me to let people in and and show them my true self. The older I get the more I realize that this is something to value. It's ok not to be like everyone else. It's ok to feel uncomfortable. It's ok to protect your shine. Being a jeweler is an isolating profession. It's a lot of solo time at the bench and a lot of introspection and I feel like my solo life has made me really good at it. I've had to learn to play by myself. Being a jeweler has also brought an amazing tribe of beautiful freaks into my life and has given me the confidence of not giving a fuck. I finally feel like I fit into a place.