Nineties supermodel and TV presenter talks model design.
Knowing What Not to Wear must be a good start when deciding how to design the best accessories. Nineties supermodel and TV presenter Lisa Butcher talks to Kat Slowe about her plans to produce a new jewellery collection and explains where she receives the inspiration for her creations.
For anyone who loved fashion in the nineties, whose TV tastes run to Britain’s Next Top Model or who is a secret aficionado of What Not to Wear, Lisa Butcher needs no introduction.
As she strolls into her PR’s office, the model could almost be mistaken for one of the young hopefuls she used to coach. Despite leading a busy life, she certainly doesn’t look to be approaching 40.
And Butcher is busy. She currently has plans to present three new TV programs. The topics of these reflect the diversity of Butcher’s interests, ranging in subject from a documentary on fair trade cotton to a campaign for jazzing up school uniforms and, lastly, a dating show. All considered, it is surprising she has the time to design jewellery.
“I got into jewellery about six years ago,” Butcher starts explaining, as she seats herself. “I have always loved jewellery, ever since I was a little girl. My mum used to wear some fabulous pieces of jewellery and I am a bit like a magpie; as soon as I see something glittery, I zoom in on it.”
Butcher created her first jewellery line, The Eden Collection, with exclusive jewellers Wint and Kidd. The collection, in yellow gold and diamonds, incorporated imagery of leaves and serpents.
Butcher is also a fan of Far Eastern symbology and culture, due to spending much of her early childhood in Indonesia. It is this that she intends to make the theme of her new – unnamed, but suggestions welcome – jewellery line. With this idea in mind, she even recently bought an encyclopaedia and has spent a fair amount of time scanning it, as well as surfing the net, to find symbols she feels she can incorporate into her pieces. Butcher reveals she has already designed the ohm and lotus into her work, both which she hopes will send a clear message.
“I want the wearer to feel this sense that we are all joined,” she says. “I receive my inspiration from putting on the news and seeing all the wars that have been happening. It really upsets me. It really bothers me that we can’t be at peace with one another, that we can’t be helping each other and nurturing one another, and that all the fundamentalists of this world are causing so many problems… If I am feeling this, then other people must be feeling this too.”
There will around ten pieces in Butcher’s new collection, which will be made of a number of different types of stones (but definitely jade, as it provides luck), 18 carat white and yellow gold, and pave-set diamonds. Butcher intends the pieces to retail between £300 and £1500, and she aims to ensure that all the materials used in her jewellery are ethically sourced. To this purpose, she is seeking to utilise the aid of a good friend.
“A friend of mine has just bought gold and diamond mines,” she explains. “I have known him for a very long time, so he is backing me. He very much believes in fair trade, so his gold mine (based in Cameroon) is going to be fair trade. We are again going to try to do a campaign to try and get people to consider doing fair trade diamonds, too.”
While Butcher reveals she does want to make some profits to ensure she does not let down her anonymous backer, the former supermodel is also extremely keen to emphasise that she intends to keep her project very small. That is, she would ideally like to stock her jewellery in places such as Harrods or Harvey Nichols – where she already knows people – and maybe a few high end hotels. In fact, the idea of selling her jewellery en masse seems to absolutely appal Butcher.
“I don’t want it in hundreds of thousands of stores at all,” she says. “I just want it really small. I don’t want it too big. I don’t want it to be mass market. Too much effort goes into each, single piece for me to just sell out and sell everywhere. That’s not what it is about at all. It is much more selective than that, I feel.”
Butcher may be associated with the high life, but her choice of jewellery for the interview is more Brent Cross than Bond Street. She freely admits to clashing her jewellery with her clothes and though she is wearing one tiny necklace from Tiffany, this has been mixed with a free necklace from a random Wimbledon fair (inscribed with her children’s names, so they lie next to her heart) and a bracelet worth £1 from Florida Keys.
She explains the reason for this unusual combination is that she would rather wear pieces that are meaningful her, with good memories, than an item which acts as a perfect accessory to her outfit. This is a belief that she intends to take across to her personal jewellery collection. In fact, it is for women like herself that she claims to design.
“It is not all about making money,” she asserts. “It is not about what you have; it is about who you are. It is about being who you are born to be.”