The casually beachy white stucco-and-driftwood décor of Venessa Arizaga’s five-month-old Far Rockaway boutique belies her high-fashion roots — until you catch sight of the sparkling jewelry. The young designer’s striking necklaces and bracelets drip with beads, pearls, and a smattering of charms shaped like mermaids, skulls, fish, llamas, and more.
Arizaga graduated from Parsons in 2003 and worked at Tuleh and Carolina Herrera before becoming design director at Zac Posen in 2008. There, she collaborated with the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Target. But in her downtime, she was also producing her own jewelry. The same year she was hired at Zac Posen, Bergdorf Goodman picked up pieces from what was then her side project. “My second love always was to make jewelry,” she says. “Every time I had a moment at home, I would do that to clear my head.” Every piece is produced by hand by Arizaga and her embroiderer, Digna Cotto.
Lower East Side boutique A.Turren began carrying her collection in 2009, and in April, Arizaga decided to trade fashion shows for glass beads and seashells. Her jewelry is whimsical but self-assured — you can’t wear a glow-in-the-dark cross grouped with stars, safety pins, and a tiny horse (see the “Faith” necklace) and not be prepared to describe it every time you put it on. Arizaga launched her The Rock Co-Op, owned with her husband, Shawn Roche, and friend Pat Conlon earlier this summer, and this month, her collection will be featured in Opening Ceremony in New York, L.A., and Tokyo. Despite the sudden expansion, she’s developing her second collection, incorporating macramé and antique cording done on 100-year-old machines at an undisclosed location in the city. The necklaces themselves seem to transport the wearer to someplace decidedly more mystical than Manhattan. Click ahead for a closer look at Arizaga’s debut collection.