An obsession with her grandmother’s jewelry, plus an iconic crystal heart necklace design, launched Martine Wester on a trajectory towards high-glamour pieces with celebrity cachet.
Martine Wester’s designs have always had a touch of dress-up enchantment to them, a hangover from a childhood spent playing with her grandmother’s jewelry box. “From an early age I was allowed to experiment with it – she triggered my passion for jewelry.” Her pieces, available at SWAROVSKI CRYSTALLIZED™, are usually described as ‘gloriously feminine’ and ‘boutique-flavored’, range from romantic teardrop bridal necklaces and vintage charm bracelets to in-your-face cocktail rings and cutting-edge geometric earrings.
Born in Twello in the Netherlands, Martine moved to the UK at 15 and attended the London College of Fashion from 1988. A few years later, life suddenly changed dramatically. She designed a crystal heart necklace that became an overnight sensation, a fashion must-have that went on to acquire iconic status. It’s still known as her signature piece, and it has spawned several attempts to copy it. In such circumstances, of course, it’s always best to remember the expression: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ – what better compliment is there? Besides, it gave Martine Wester’s eponymous jewelry label, launched in 2004, worldwide celebrity status, making it a hit with stars and fashionistas with the likes of Heidi Klum, Tulisa and Amanda Holden among her fans. No red carpet event takes place without paparazzi shots of Wester’s lustrous designs twinkling on A-listers’ arms and necks.
SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS have been pivotal to her luxurious creations for many years. In fact, even the SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS seasonal mood boards often provide the starting point for her collections. “SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS are an integral part of our designs – never an add-on.” The only thing that isn’t available, she says, is a crystal re-creation of shards of broken glass – she’d be the first through the door to get her hands on that. Looking at her edgier, asymmetric shapes, it’s easy to see how such an innovation would fit with her creative vision.
Based in London’s Parsons Green and with a young child to bring up, she gets inspiration for her romantic and retro designs from the vintage markets and exhibitions, and she tops up her creative energies at Tate Modern and the Victoria & Albert Museum. “That said,” she adds, “It was The Great Gatsby that influenced my latest collection, plus Schiaparelli, who is one of my favorite designers from the 1920s.” She also finds that a lot of her inspiration comes from her customers. In fact, asked what advice she’d pass on to new designers, she says it would be “to remember that just because you like something it doesn’t mean the rest of the world will, so think of your customer first”. This is why, having learned a lot through trial and error over her last few stellar years, Wester’s first instinct is to make sure there’s something for everyone in her collection. Her grandmother would surely be proud.