Guest Interview n°22: Karlie Gartner
Desired, evocative, esteemed, and no two are alike. Organic creations merging past and present to tell an individualistic tale and yet simultaneously continuing anew for the one who wears a jeweled piece made by Karlie Gartner. The beauty of these one of a kind jewels, is that they originate from another time and place and find their way to Karlie, are deconstructed, and made to order as her eye and creative hands see fit. Extravagant and bespoke melodies to be adorned, each with its own special story to tell, and upon first sight, it’s love. We crave what no one else has, and Karlie gives this special gift. These are transformation pieces, and they all carry the whimsical, the royal, and a never-ending dream… which is in fact the key in fashion that is so intensely sought out. We caught up with Karlie to get into the details of what makes these hand-made historical jeweled pieces so delightfully inviting to the eyes.
What inspired you to begin jewelry design?
I love fashion accessories and have always dreamt of converting my vision into an accessories empire. Growing up I taught myself how to make my own jewellery, so I could improvise and replicate the amazing pieces I longed to own without the funds to finance my caviar tastes. I figured jewellery was the perfect place to start as it’s something that I innately understand and appreciate.
Your pieces are extraordinary…each with its own special identity. What is the ‘behind the scenes’ process that each undergoes?
The process of designing varies greatly from piece to piece, but once I’ve come up with a specific design, I set to work on deconstructing the original components by removing pins and backings etc. and reworking them together into a new design. This too can be completely different for each piece, weather it requires re-stringing, drilling, sewing, hand wiring, beading or cold connecting.. I sort of consider each piece on an individual basis and work it out as I go along.
How long does each piece take to create? What is your feeling once you have completed a piece?
Each piece depends completely on the design.. and of course the time it takes to source all of the components. Generally the more intricate the design, the more time it takes to create, owing to the fact that it’s all assembled and wired by hand. Of course it is for this reason that the feeling of completing a piece is tremendous. Seeing your vision come to life is so satisfying in itself, and that feeling is compounded by people who appreciate your work.
Not one piece is identical. Is this something that was intentional from the beginning? Which do you prefer – the mass production of pieces? Or keeping them as individuals, one of a kind?
It’s actually not something that was intentional from the beginning, but as I became more and more interested and inspired by vintage jewellery and designs, it very quickly became apparent that I wanted to maintain the integrity of the components I was collecting, and that has become very important to the theme of my collection -that they should remain one-of-a-kind pieces.
I believe that the fashion world is heading more and more in this direction. With high street stores competing so fiercely to churn out the latest trends and catwalk looks on mass, I think people are beginning to explore other avenues to express themselves through fashion, and are willing to pay that little bit extra in an effort to break the cookie cutter mould and wear something that celebrates individuality and an appreciation for traditional craftsmanship.
How long have you been collecting pieces? Where do you go to add to the massive collection – will you share your special vintage spots?
I have been collecting really since I was a young girl. I would trawl through my grandmother’s jewellery box and play with her vanity set and powder compact on weekly visits. I think my hardcore addiction kicked in, however, when I started travelling. Moving to the UK, I discovered London to be a vintage playground which is what ultimately inspired my current collection. I visit markets on a weekly basis.. Some of my favorites include Spitalfields, Camden Passage, and Portobello Road (when I can face the crowds!)
Who do you create these pieces for?
I create for women who appreciate fashion but like to set themselves apart from the crowd. For women who celebrate individuality, sentiment and nostalgia.
Your primary focus is accessories – do you plan to extend the Karlie Gartner label? In which direction do you feel would be additionally beneficial to the existing collection?
I would love to expand the label into a full range of accessories! I think 2nd to jewellery is my love of handbags.. I would like to design a handbag range next. I’m currently working on hair pieces under the existing theme of restyled vintage, and I plan on developing that into a full bridal and fascinator collection. Watch this space!
These statement pieces are representations of you. Can you describe what they mean?
I believe that accessorizing is the easiest way to transform a person from the mundane to the spectacular. For me, my pieces project an image of whimsy and fantasy.. Something to transport you into a fairytale world. They represent my vision of a fairytale world and my way of linking the past with the present.
In what city is your heart? Where do you find yourself most creative in flow and inspiration?
My heart will always belong to my hometown -Melbourne. My favorite city though is definitely New York! Its got such a cool vibe and has so much to offer in terms of inspiration. I would love to live there one day!
Do little moments and experiences in your life influence the designs of the pieces?
Definitely! I pick up inspiration from all over the place. I think I’m having a ‘Black Swan’ moment right now.. Im getting very into dark and moody pieces and black Victorian lace.
Who are your favorite accessories designers? Dream collaborations?
My favorite Vintage jewellery designer is Miriam Haskell because her pieces are like works of art – so incredibly intricate and beautiful! Contemporary designers I love are Tom Binns and Michelle Jank because they create statement accessories that are bold and unique.
I would love to one day collaborate with Sass and Bide…
Which direction do you think the future of jewelry design is moving in?
Jewellery design is becoming increasingly experimental and conceptual which is very exciting. Contemporary designers are pushing the boundaries in terms of materials that constitute foundations for jewellery and accessories. I once read an article about a designer who used human bone tissue to create a ring, coining it ‘bio-bling’. I love that!
What do you want your clients to know when they wear your pieces? What should they take away with them?
That when they wear a piece from the Karlie Gartner collection, they are not only wearing a hand worked, one-of-a-kind accessory, but also a piece of history, reviving and re-loving treasures from years gone by.
Interview and introduction by Coco Brown. Photos courtesy Karlie Gartner.