Q&A: Alice Cicolini on joining Winterson pearls

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The designer discusses plans exclusively with Professional Jeweller.

Pearl brand Winterson has today announced Alice Cicolini as its new creative director. In an exclusive Q&A with Professional Jeweller, Cicolini talks heritage, design innovation and wholesale plans for the brand.

Professional Jeweller: Tell us about your new role at Winterson – how did it come about?
Alice Cicolini: Winterson invited me to develop a collection for them in 2012, which resulted in Beau, a series of pieces inspired by the Georgian fascination with the bow. It was a period that was also particularly defined by the combination of enamel and the seed pearl, which seemed like the perfect place for me to start. For Winterson, it was the second design collaboration in what we intend now to be a series of commissions going forward, running alongside the fantastic relationship with Central St Martins that the brand established two years ago. It was an experience we all enjoyed and after designing Beau we collaborated on a collection of rings, which the brand hadn’t tackled before, and then began to look at the classic pieces in the existing range. It seemed like a natural step for us to work together more formally.

PJ: What will be your first task upon joining the business – have you got key objectives in mind?
AC: With a 50-year heritage of working with pearls, Winterson is developing its brand based on a platform of quality, most centrally the quality of this beautiful gem, but also of manufacture and craftsmanship, and customer experience. My role is very much to extend that set of values in to the integrity and quality of the design across the jewellery range; to make sure that the customer gets as much pleasure from the [web] page and the product as they do from the journey that brings it to their doorstep. Lief is the beginning of that process, one that will extend over the next 12 months and more in to bridal and fine jewellery collections.

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PJ: With a view to pearl design at present, what do you hope to bring to Winterson in your role as creative director?
AC: The pearl is an enduring and classic part of a woman’s wardrobe. As the nature of the roles women play changes though, so this classic gem needs to change with them if it is to retain such a central role. There has been so much innovation with the way in which the pearl has been presented in recent years, a focus that designers like Melanie Georgacopoulos have driven, so it’s a really inspiring moment to be thinking about what we can add to that conversation. I think, for me, what I have found most inspiring about working with such fine-quality pearls is the fact that far from being monochrome – black, grey or white – the pearl has so many shades and colours that juxtaposition with other stones can help to draw out. Perhaps it is viewing the pearl as part of a much more colourful landscape that is the point of view I have to offer.

PJ: Are there any plans for Winterson to move in to wholesaling collections to the wider trade?
AC: We will start to think about some specific wholesale relationships in 2015, but for now we’re very happy with our current growth through the Winterson online store.

PJ: Finally, will you still focus on your own collections alongside designing for Winterson?
AC: Absolutely! 2014 has seen my work launching at Dover Street Market in London, New York and Tokyo, and at Colette in Paris, as well as a successful debut on Net-A-Porter. For 2015, we intend to build on these relationships, and are focusing on the launch of two new collections, including a range for Couture in May. In addition, I’ve designed a range of charms for new Parisian brand Ilado, to be worn alongside the bola, a sensory gem with a soft jingling sound that is traditionally worn by Mexican mothers to soothe babies before and after birth. The Element Charm range is inspired by the Golden Ratio forms and their relationship to the astrological qualities of earth, fire, air and water, and the healing qualities of particular stones; it will launch alongside other pieces in January next year.
 

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