INTERVIEW Clara Kasavina’s accessories

for a modern-day Anna Karenina

Adored by A-listers such as Beyoncé, Iris Apfel and Catherine Zeta Jones, this über-luxe accessories brand prides itself on the bespoke intricacy of its products. Leather, exotic skins and furs, hand-cast frames and precious metalwork, as well as crystals, dramatic jewel tones, and unique detailing, recall the Fabergé-style opulence of Misha Berger and Clara Kasavina’s native Saint Petersburg, Russia. Recently, we were treated to a privileged behind-the-scenes peek at the New York-based brand, run by this talented husband-and-wife design team.

My husband is an amazing teacher and has truly opened up my talent—he’s also the best craftsman I know. It started in the early Eighties when he used to make models on our kitchen table. His filigree, egg-shaped bag was so innovative that we sell it to this day. I began combining gemstones with his metal work a little later.

We’re both enchanted by Russia’s beautiful cities, built by the best Italian, French and German architects. My favorite design styles are Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and Misha is a big fan of Bauhaus. I also love Erté and Fabergé, two artists reflecting my St Petersburg roots.

My father and my grandfather were metalsmiths, while my mother worked as a stylist for a clothing designer. Misha’s grandfather was a painter who also restored Russian Churches. My first job was in a jewelry factory as a stone-setter and Misha was a sculptor in the Ukraine.

Before designing, we try to see ready-to-wear shows and we go to museums, and then we discuss the theme for the season. Misha executes our ideas.

We love SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS and we believe in their intrinsic value. We think they enhance our designs, adding instant happiness and color, and making our pieces collectible. I have a favorite necklace with bullet-shaped glass beads—I’d love to see a Swarovski crystal like that.

Winning the Independent Handbag Designer Award in 2011 in the InStyle Red Carpet Ready Evening Bag category was one of my proudest moments.

An early champion of ours was the late Murray Nathan, the owner of Calderon Belt. He was amazing, producing Anne Klein’s label and working with Donna Karan. He believed in us and, in 1994, asked us to design twelve belts—our buckles and leatherwork generated sales of over a million dollars!

Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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