When we visited jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher at her Soho studio she was wearing two pairs of her latest gold talon earrings – really fiercely, two in each ear. Earlier that week, Beyoncé had worn a pair of her diamond dagger earrings during her performance of “Drunk in Love” at the Grammys. Needles to say, Jennifer was psyched. “We sent Beyoncé a bunch of stuff, but you never know until you see her on TV,” she said. “I wanted to Instagram it, but then people would have wanted them, and they weren’t available yet. I was like, let’s get them up now!”
Jennifer’s women-can’t-get-it-quickly-enough problem is, of course, a good one to have. Her collections of fine jewelry and faux-gold (i.e. polished brass), which launched in 2005 and 2011 respectively, are coveted hard and equally by actresses (Emma Stone, Sarah Jessica Parker), musicians (Rihanna, Miley Cyrus), and women who want anything from a sweet charm necklace to an armload of much bigger bangles. A designer who, as she tells it, started her business on a whim – she had a baby, she was disappointed by all of the “mom” jewelry on the market, she made her own personalized charm necklace for her son, et voila it took off! – Jennifer makes it look so easy. Though we all know that one does’t get to Beyoncé without talent and a lot of serious, hard work.
Jennifer is the first of our subjects to have used Levi’s denim-distressing service (offered at certain flagship stores), and it made perfect sense to us that she, who founded her business on personalizing everything from rings to pendants to bracelets, would want her jacket’s wear-and-tear done her way. After all, this is a designer who just re-launched her website with a cool drag-and-drop feature that lets shoppers build their own charm necklaces. You should check it out. But first read her story…
Okay, tell us about your great jacket…
So this jacket, it’s new. Well, it’s sort of new – it’s two years old. But I bought it in an attempt to replicate a jacket that I had when I was younger that I lost. I feel like I must have loaned it to someone and never gotten it back. Maybe in high school or college.
Where did you get that original jacket?
My dad collects antiques and we used to go the Rose Bowl flea market [in Pasadena, California] all the time – I feel like I got it there with him.
What a cool dad, taking you to the Rose Bowl flea.
Yeah, my dad is totally into antiques. It’s a hobby, not a profession. But he used to drive us down to the flea at like six in the morning on Sundays, whenever he could get the rest of my family to go with him. He collects Western things – old tools and spurs. My parents always had this really interesting mix of Santa Barbara Spanish-Western décor. Lots of etchings of cowboys by Ed Borein. And we had hundreds of rugs that my dad would display in the house, folded so you could see all of the patterns. He still has them.
Is this in the house that grew up in?
Well, my dad used to redo Spanish style estates in Montecito, so we lived in like 10 or 12 different houses growing up. He’d buy them, fix them, and sell them. They weren’t ranches, but more like estates, with land and horses. That’s what this reminds me of, this jacket. It reminds me of him.
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What else were you into back then, besides the vintage jean jacket?
Well, I was the girl voted ‘Most Likely to Fly to Paris for Dinner’ my senior year of high school, to give you an idea. I had this really interesting sense of style that I think not a lot of people understood. I used to comb vintage stores and take things and redo them. I put patches on jackets – my best friend Theresa and I used to do that. I collected jewelry, I have it all, still. I’m saving it for my daughter Drew, for when she’s old enough. I’m hoping she’ll grow up and appreciate it.
My grandfather was a jeweler and a polo player; he taught people how to play polo at the Santa Barbara Polo Fields. He was this old cowboy, and he used to make the rodeo buckles, and bolo ties, and collar tips for the cowboys in Santa Barbara. And he taught my dad how to do it, too, so growing up we always had a studio for my grandfather in all of the houses that we lived in. My dad still does some of that metalwork now. He makes money clips for his friends. But I used to collect charms – my mom would bring me charms from the places she’d travel to – and I used to watch my grandfather make jewelry. So it was always in me, but I never knew it.
Tell us how you like to wear this new jacket now. Obviously, with a lot of jewelry…
Right. And I’m really into buttoning the top all the way up – collar up or collar down. I love how it looks in the winter under overcoats. It’s so chic. And it’s really cute with a red lip and a charcoal coat. Last week, I wore it with a white shirt buttoned all the way up, and then I had a mock vest from Opening Ceremony over that, with the jacket over that. For Paris, I want to wear just classic clothes, so I’m taking all of these white shirts – I just got a really good Margiela one – that I’m going to wear with this jacket and really tight leather leggings. I’m going there at the end of the month to show my collection with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s ‘Americans in Paris’ group. I feel like since I’m American, the denim thing in Paris is good.
Is this your kind of wash – medium blue? Or do you wear other shades?
I usually like dark washes, and I don’t like waxed denim. I prefer clean jeans. I used to love Current/Elliott’s original boyfriend, but I went through this purge recently and I got rid of every single pair of jeans I owned that had holes in it. I have no jeans with holes anymore.
Wow. That’s a bold move. Does any part of you regret it?
No. Now I’m going to go to the Levi’s store and see if the girl there can do a pair of jeans for me, like how they did this jacket.
Right, so walk us through what you did at Levi’s to custom-distress this jacket…
It started out new, and then they just mark the spots where you want it to be distressed. I didn’t want it hole-y because I wanted to eventually wear it on my own. For me, putting holes in denim makes it not yours. To give it a little bit of distressing, that’s different. But I wanted it to look worn and I wanted it shrunken. I wanted it to look like it was from a kids store. But it is a women’s jacket, and it’s shorter in the back than it is in the front. And you can wear it with anything. Anything. I wear it on the weekends a lot with old, vintage cargo pants and things.
How long did it take for Levi’s to do the distressing?
That’s not too long to wait.
No. And then I washed it and washed it and washed it, and it was a little bit bigger than this when I got it and they told me it wasn’t going to shrink, but it did, and I’m happy that it did. I love that feeling of having a jean jacket on, and kind of being confined in it. I love that feeling. Like everything is sort tucked and sucked in. I just love that when I put my shoulders forward I can barely move my arms [laughs]. I like that I can’t put my arms up in the air [laughs]. Is that weird?
No, we hear that a lot.
And, really, the reason I got this jacket is because I don’t have to roll up my sleeves to see my jewelry. It’s the perfect sleeve length. It’s the perfect jewelry jacket. It’s true, I hate having to roll my sleeves – so the cropped sleeve is perfect. It’s almost like a measuring tape; it tells me how much jewelry to put on – I just pile on the bracelets until they hit the wrist of the jacket.
Do you wear the same amount of jewelry on both wrists?
No, I never wear any jewelry on the left wrist, just my watch. And I’m left-handed, which is weird. I like the feeling of the weight on both of my wrists, though. Although, I always say I’m going to clean things up, and then I’ll go really minimal one day and I feel naked. I think it almost lets people down when I don’t wear a ton of jewelry.