On the 10th anniversary of the year that Gabriela Artigas designed her first piece of jewelry — a cuff bracelet fashioned out of a boldly colored acrylic toothbrush, minus the bristles, which she purchased at the supermarket while studying fabric design in her hometown of Mexico City — the local brand has opened its first stand-alone studio in West Hollywood.
Chelsea Handler, Carey Mulligan, Emma Roberts and Tyra Banks are just a few star fans of the label, which is designed and handcrafted in Los Angeles. "But it was just three years ago that it became a day job and a real business, when [my sister] Tere joined the company," says Artigas, 32.
Indeed, the enterprise is a family affair. Teresita Artigas, Gabriela's 34-year-old sister, handles sales and press for the brand, and the sisters share an abode just blocks away. Tere's musician husband recently collaborated on a line of bolo ties. Older brother Alejandro, a local furniture designer, handcrafted the studio's pedestal tables, custom-upholstered furniture and cabinets with the line's signature gold tusks as drawer pulls. His wife photographs the collections. (It was Alejandro's study of architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture that initially drew the sisters to Los Angeles in 2003, after Gabriela sold a necklace off their mother's neck to a saleswoman at Maxfield for $90 in cash.)
While Tere wears a uniform-like denim smock, dark angular glasses and lace-up brogues, Gabriela dons a ladylike metallic gold-and-burgundy blouse, accessorized with brilliant gold shooting star earrings. The earrings are part of a new collection designed in honor of her boyfriend, Jason Jones, creative director of local leather accessories company Parabellum, for his nomination as a finalist in the 2013 Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund competition.
Like the Artigas sisters, the Gabriela Artigas collection is a study in contrasts. A mix of bold and delicate, organic and geometric, precious and semiprecious, the pieces — including razor-thin diamond cuffs, standout ox horn pendant necklaces and hexagonal metallic rings — are designed to be combined and worn in different ways. The spring 2014 Stirrup Cuff ($195) can be worn upside down or laced with accompanying black or white ribbon ties.
"We want to keep creating pieces that are very architectural, clean and timeless, so it's a boundary between fine and costume jewelry in a very contemporary way," says Gabriela, who cites as inspiration the style of her father and paternal grandfather, Francisco Artigas, an internationally renowned Modernist architect in Mexico City.
"Our father had all his pens in the same color and his pencils sharpened the same way; his shirts were big, colorful square and stripe [patterns]. Everything looked so neat and clean," she says. "So we translated how we live onto the jewelry. We want to create a statement by the way you wear the jewelry, more than the jewelry itself — pieces that you can layer to become a part of you."
"[Gabriela Artigas] does spare that's not necessarily Minimalist, and she manages edgy in a very chic way," says Rose Apodaca, owner of the two local A + R stores, who has carried Artigas' line since 2010.
"If you just wear a T-shirt and jeans or a couture gown, you put on a piece of Gabriela's jewelry and it makes the outfit," says Desiree Kohan, owner of Des Kohan in West Hollywood, the first local retailer to carry the jewelry line, and a regular collaborator on exclusive pieces for her boutique. "But it's not trendy. I love that the jewelry [often] incorporates vintage pieces. That makes it really special. It doesn't matter if someone already has the perfect ring, they still add a Gabriela Artigas ring."
The core collection ranges from $70 to $1,200; an engagement ring and bridal collection, launched two years ago, starts at $1,200 for one of six prototype rings and from $4,500 for a completely bespoke design. The bridal and new four-piece Serrate collection, with a graphic design inspired by the company logo, are available exclusively at the studio. For spring, the brand is extending into men's accessories, with cufflinks and tie pins.
Where: 370 ½ N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment.
Contact: (310) 360-0796; http://www.gabrielaartigas.com
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