Fiona Paxton is a jeweller who works with the fine art of tambour beading to create bold earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I spoke with her about her intriguing career and her eye-catching designs.
You started out as a textile designer: how did you make the transition to making jewellery?
I wanted to launch my own collection and the initial idea was fringed scarves with fine chains. During the design and sampling process I tried some scarves with the chains looping around. It then just snowballed from there – I showed a few people the samples and the reaction was incredible. I just built on the original designs each season and broadened the collection. I have had to learn everything along the way and I still am.
Fiona Paxton by Claire Bartrop.
Can you tell us a bit more about your life as textile designer: who did you work for and what was the most exciting thing you created?
I worked freelance when I left the Royal College of Art for many different companies. It was great experience but I wanted to learn from other designers and be part of a team. I worked for Michiko Koshino for 3 years designing her catwalk prints. The opportunity then came to be the Art Director of a new textile design studio. We worked with all of the major international fashion houses creating prints and embroideries for their collections. It was very exciting and great to work with so many creative people over the years.
Where did you learn how to work so intricately with beads?
When I worked in my last job we worked with Indian beaders. I learnt a little bit but really I have learnt as I have gone along. Working with the beaders watching how they work and learning to interpret the designs.
Fiona Paxton by Tara Anne Bush.
You have been inspired by travel, what is the most beautiful place you have visited? And how has that found a home in your designs?
Travel is very inspiring and from a fashion point of view it is not necessarily the most beautiful that inspires. People watching is great and seeing how people dress and the style of different cities is what I find inspiring. How people mix and wear clothes and jewellery. Visiting New York gives me a huge buzz, Paris during show times is amazing and Hong Kong is great for the mix of High fashion in such a vibrant setting.
Who are the artisans who create your collections? And what is the process of working with them?
They are all trained tambour beaders. I draw out my designs on paper and then they are traced onto the fabric or leather we are using. They then work with the beads to build up the designs, I usually spend time working with them to ensure it is how I envisaged it but many times they suggest different ways or how I imagined it proves too difficult so we compromise and adapt the original idea.
What inspired your latest A/W 2012 collection?
It was inspired by a mix and clash of cultures. Japanese mixed with an African feel and colour clash. Grace Jones was the inspiration and the colour was the really important thing. Intense dark with hot colours. I really like the idea of rich tropical inspired colours for Winter.
Fiona Paxton by Angela Lamb.
How do your men’s collections differ?
I think you can be bolder and stronger in your statement.
You’re a big fan of Bjork – what other music is on your stereo right now?
Continuing the Icelandic theme Sigur Ros has also been a favourite over the summer but the alt-J album is flawless and the best album I have bought in ages.
What can we expect for next season? Any hints?
A real change in direction which is very exciting. The whole colour palette is radically altered and inspiration has taken me in quite a different direction.
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