Metal collars are everywhere, adding a touch of sass to otherwise sweet necklines. A versatile accessory, the collar is great a great way to re-vamp those back-of-your-closet dresses, and add an edge to your basic work shirts. Wicked Peacock caught up with Brooklyn-based designer LAB by Laura Busony—whose collars have been spotted in the glossies, um LUCKY Magazine, just sayin’—about her inspirations, her design process and her ipod!
Laura began making jewelry while working as an assistant costume designer, and comes from a line of creative savants. Inspired by the obscured American writer-artiste-custodian Henry Darger, and her intensely self-reliant parents who’ve build almost everything they own with their own hands, Laura’s creativity and design-eye are deeply rooted. “I’m inspired by my parents because they can build anything. My Dad restores antique cars and my mom restores antique furniture. I like to call my folks, ‘masochistically DIY.’”
A typical day in her studio starts by cutting the necklace blanks by hand, shaping, sanding, hammering, finishing and finally polishing them. Laura wears a respirator most of the time to avoid “the glitter sneeze.”
WP: How did you get started designing jewelry?
LAB: I was working on a show that was super jewelry-heavy, and the costumer passed the task along to me. She was like “so, have you ever made jewelry before?” and I was like “um, nope,” and she said “okay! you’ll be fine!” So I made something crazy like 40 or more pieces for this show, and I immediately became addicted to it. I loved it. I would be the first one at work and the last one to leave. Even when we ran out of the budget for materials, I started spending my own money because I kept wanting to make them bigger and better.
WP: Why Darger?
LAB: I’ve always been affected by Henry Darger’s work. I think his life speaks to the idea that the need to create and imagine is so inherent and important to us as a species that it doesn’t matter who we create for, but that the act itself makes us feel like our true selves. I can kind of relate a little to the idea that someone can get lost within the world that they’ve created from their own imagination. I also find it fascinating that people can live these secretly creative lives that no body else knows about. When Darger died, it was his landlord who found his life’s work and realized how important it really was. There’s something both bittersweet and inspiring about that.
WP: For your next collection, we can look forward to…
LAB: I’m definitely pushing the limits of the collar shape — I’m trying to do as much with it as I possibly can. Amazingly, there is still a lot of untouched territory when it comes to collars. I’m experimenting with different shapes that are far more sculptural than what I’ve done in the past, and I’m really excited about them. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from my Eastern European gypsy roots. We’re also going to resume expanding our tribal jewelry collection as well and start re-imagining the direction of those pieces. It’s going to be a pretty busy and exciting fall/winter.
WP: And on your ipod?
LAB: I listen to the Talking Heads Pandora station pretty much solidly. I could listen to the Talking Heads for the rest of forever. Although if you ask anyone in the office, they’ll probably tell you that we listen to so many back to back episodes of This American Life that Ira Glass narrates their dreams.