Theatrical, eclectic, and exotic, this luxe, largely self-taught accessories designer just keeps on coming up with surprises.
A quick glance at her CV shows that high-end jewelry designer Nicole Akong is one über-talented, super-driven lady. Born in Trinidad, by the age of seven she had chalked up distinctions in dance and music, and by 10 she had taught herself to sew, running up collections for her Barbie doll. One novel and a Fine Art degree later, she moved to the UK, where she spent eight years in financial-services marketing while moonlighting as a DJ.
But everything changed in 2008 when she took a jewelry-making course (“something fun to do on a Saturday”). “My creative forces were unleashed and I knew what I had to do: I left my financial career and launched my label in 2010. I haven’t looked back since.”
Akong London is known for its sumptuous riot of components from gemstones and pearls to glass and crystal, and feathers and fur to velvet and chains. Already gaining cult status among the style cognoscenti, Akong’s standout, hand-made jewelry is a big hitter in the fashion press, with Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire among the many newsstand titles that champion her label.
“I like to harness the power of a piece to convey confidence. The Akong girl is ‘fierce’. She loves to look fabulous, cool and relaxed – we try to channel the ‘model on duty’ look.” To this end, she starts with a mood board of images, and then chooses a muse – someone real or imaginary whose style embodies the theme, and designs with them in mind.
Akong’s recent Imperial Collection channels the ceremonial garments of Chinese dynasties, re-interpreting the traditional, intricate embroidery on stoles, necklaces and bracelets – these gorgeous pieces can be seen at SWAROVSKI CRYSTALLIZED™. She describes the collection as “concubine-meets-girl about town”. Rich embellishment with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, she says, gives them instant show-stopping glamour, drama and opulence.
Her sterling work ethic is attributed to the influence of her beloved late father, who encouraged his children to work hard in order to succeed. He’d have been thrilled to see how his advice has paid off, and just how much his daughter has achieved on the strength of her formidable talent.