You heard it here first—gender blending is the way forward

German-born Sari Raethel has just picked up the award of a lifetime: She has just been declared the winner of the ITS JEWELRY Award by a phenomenal panel of judges, which included fashion designer Iris van Herpen, jewelry historian Vivienne Becker, and Head of Fabrics at Chanel, Kim Young-Seong.

As well as winning a cool, game-changing €10,000, Sari will make pivotal contacts across the design world. Her uniquely beautiful pieces perfectly catalyzed the brief, which incorporated the words “gender, neutral, strength, resilience, solidarity and unity.” Her incredible pieces cleverly empower the wearer to decide how to reflect their gender each time they wear them. We caught up with an elated Sari, basking in the after-glow of her success.

What motivated you to enter the ITS contest?
I heard about it during my first year at the Royal College of Art: two of our second-year students were finalists when YunSun Jang won the Swarovski Award in 2015. This spurred me on to apply with my own graduate collection for ITS 2016.

Did you originally study jewelry design?
My BA was in Gemstone and Jewelry Design at Idar-Oberstein in Germany, a school focused on contemporary gallery-style jewelry. It was only during my internship with Scott Wilson that I gained experience in a more fashion-oriented area. During my Masters degree in Jewelry & Metal at the Royal College of Art, I collaborated with fashion designers from there and London College of Fashion.

What are your influences?
Social critique, pop culture, fashion, architecture and people—and I’m fascinated by the interaction between the body and the object. I love to find new areas to adorn! For my ITS designs I also took inspiration from the ideas of gender theorist, Judith Butler.

Did any design sensibilities stand out this year at ITS?
There was a lot of material experimentation. I loved the suits by Shinhwan Kim covered in resin or made of silicone; also Flora Miranda’s garments and Stefanie Tschirky’s new material invention. “Sustainability” was beautifully encapsulated in outstanding work from Helen Kirkum, who made footwear “collaged” from sneakers.

Was it fun working with Swarovski crystals?
My work, in general, is very reduced, bold and graphic, so using crystals was an interesting challenge. I searched the Swarovski range to find a product that fitted my design language and loved experimenting with the Hot Fix on metal, rather than fabric.

Were you inspired by any of the other work that was exhibited?
I really liked how the 2015 ITS JEWELRY Award winner, In Wai Kwok, translated her beautiful aesthetics from big jewelry pieces into a more commercial collection, still preserving the same impact.

What’s next for you?
Winning ITS Jewelry is a dream come true for me. It’s given me a huge boost and will enable me to start my own label. I’m already looking forward to returning to Trieste for ITS 2017 to show my new collection!

Photography by: Eliška Kyselková

Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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