Dana Lorenz Pairs Her Pearls With Barbed Wire

Dana Lorenz is the pretty-punk jewelry designer behind Fenton/Fallon and J.Crew’s most recent collaborative jewelry collection. Trained as a painter, she started out creating necklaces for herself and friends, layering strands of pearls and Swarovski crystals with spikes and chains. The designs first caught the eye of Alexandre Plokhov (of the now-defunct label Cloak), who asked her to design a line of accessories for his menswear show in 2005. The collection’s pieces attracted the attention a buyer at Barneys, and demand grew. Her jewelry has since appeared on the necks of a slew of A-listers and celebs (including Michelle Obama herself, last year).

The J.Crew collaboration sprung from a serendipitous meeting with creative director Jenna Lyons, after Lorenz was “coerced” by the First Lady’s unofficial stylist Ikram Goldman into attending a dinner party at designer Maria Cornejo’s apartment. “It was one of those times I was like, ‘I cannot go to a party right now — I look like a shlub.’” But she went, and met Lyons, who inquired about her piled-on necklaces. And now the Fenton/Fallon for J.Crew collection, which launched earlier this month, showcases her penchant for mixed-material statement pieces, with Swarovski crystals and hand-dyed ribbons blended with silver, gold, and brass chains. (New pieces for J.Crew will debut in May and June.) We caught up with Lorenz to talk about her counterintuitive style, new shopping philosophy, and pursuit of the ultimate luggage set.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I kind of do a punk- or goth-inspired version of things you’d typically get as a classic graduation gift. It might start with an I.D. bracelet or a single strand of pearls, but then I’ll add leather barbed wire or biker chains.

What kind of person wears your designs?
Every time someone comes into the store and buys something, they’re wacky and amazing. It’s someone who’s strong and has a point of view.

Who are your favorite designers?
I love Gripoix jewelry for Chanel, and costume jewelry from the late eighties and early nineties. I also love people who are designing jewelry that is totally opposite from what I do, like Phillip Crangi and Eddie Borgo.

Where do you like to shop in New York?
I’m probably the No. 1 customer at Saint James uptown. I’ll wear a Saint James hoodie with like, 30 necklaces.

How would you describe your personal style?
Jackie Onassis mixed with Iris Apfel.

What trends do you like right now?
I love that we’re getting back to classic clothing. I’m a crazy eclectic person, but you’d be shocked by the preppy things I buy for myself. Sometimes designers project their crazy onto something completely different than themselves.

What trends are you ready to see retired?
I’ve decided I’m not buying anymore cheap things. I’d rather save up and buy one amazing piece from Barneys than buy twelve to fifteen things on lower Broadway. Those pieces never see the light of day. I’ll look at them two weeks later and I’m like, “This is revolting.” I want to buy things that are really worth it.

What’s one item you’re saving to buy?
A chocolate brown crocodile Birkin bag — but I’ll be dead before I see that. I’m actually saving up for a really amazing luggage set. I want a full set, even the pieces that you never see people use anymore, like the makeup case with the mirror. I’m trying to be more formal.

What should every woman have in her closet?
I love a great white shirt. Steal your boyfriend’s amazing white shirt, and even if you break up, keep buying it. I go to Brooks Brothers ; I always monogram my shirts.

What’s something you never leave the house without?
Lipstick — I have like, 50 shades. Right now I’m wearing Nars Viridiana, which looks like Rum Raisin from the nineties.

Dana Lorenz Pairs Her Pearls With Barbed Wire