Monica Vinader and Caroline Issa on their collaboration, favourite jewellery, and how to thrive in life
As fashion industry insiders, we’re constantly inundated by claims of collections being "the next big thing". Fortunately, there are some collaborations that still get us excited — Superga x Love, Bonito and Gentle Monster x Huawei, for starters. Another collab that gets us hot and giddy with heart eyes? Monica Vinader’s partnership with Caroline Issa.
Monica Vinader is known for its fine yet affordable jewellery. Caroline Issa, on the other hand, is a multi-hyphenate: she's an entrepreneur, CEO, style icon, and a fashion editor. Translation: Issa embodies style.
The resulting collection is one that plays up the raw, natural beauty of uncut gemstones — citrine, rose quartz, aquamarine, and more — in silhouettes of drop earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
Ahead, Vinader and Issa spill the beans on their collaboration, favourite jewellery, and share with us tips to thrive in life.
What is your earliest memory of jewellery?
Monica Vinader (MV): My mother had an amazing collection of Art Deco and 40s gold chunky jewellery from brands including Van Cleef & Arpels. She was very generous and used to let me wear it.
Caroline Issa (CI): My grandmother's jade bracelet that never came off. It was a mesmerizing shade of green.
What was the first item of jewellery that you bought for yourselves?
MV: Native American Navajo Jewellery when I lived in Santa Fe, with turquoise and beads.
CI: I used to make my own jewellery actually. There was a Play-Doh type material that hardened in the oven called FIMO, and I used to make earrings and sell them to the rest of the fifth graders.
What was the most sentimental item of jewellery that somebody else ever gifted you?
MV: My grandmother gave me a charm bracelet when I was tiny, and every birthday she would add a charm. I used to get pretty excited about every charm.
CI: Pieces from my family are precious to me.
What item in each of your jewellery boxes sparks the most joy?
MV: All of them — although I am having a gold-and-statement-links moment with lots of charms.
CI: So many items, it's hard to choose one. I bought some amazing pieces when I got to visit Iran a few years ago, and those are very special to me. I think back on that trip very fondly.
If you could only travel on a relatively long trip with one item of jewellery, what would you choose?
MV: I cannot pick just one, so I would choose earrings and a ring. I have to have a ring on or I feel naked.
CI: I would choose earrings. They are the most versatile and can add to any outfit.
As close friends, what was it like formally collaborating for the first time? What did each of you discover about the other that you hadn’t really known before?
MV: It was a complete joy and one of the most positive things I have done in a long time. The collaboration was so easy and rewarding, and it was amazing to see our relationship extend to my design team, who just loved all of Caroline’s input and got so much out of it.
CI: It was wonderful and very natural to collaborate together. We share similar values and I've always loved Monica's brand approach to creating joy, self-gifting, confidence, and sisterhood. I had always known her expertise in gemstones, but I hadn't quite realised the extent of her knowledge nor the encyclopaedic data on so many of the gemstones and colour properties we worked on together.
Both of you are known for the practicality and accessibility of your styles. How important is it to each of you that aspiration be attainable?
MV: It really is what we are about. I believe good design and quality should be accessible to everyone. People appreciate well-made creations designed with integrity and made to last. It is possible to make quality accessible not just for the few, and that really drives our business.
CI: I love and admire style icons who really take their sense of dressing and styling into another stratosphere — ball gowns at 10am with sneakers, or bodycon dresses at midday fit for a night of dance. Amazing. But I tend to stick to ways of dressing that I’m most personally comfortable in, and that includes a lot of tailoring and easy dresses — pieces that take little effort but give a little bit of oomph. I think many of us have so many responsibilities in daily life that we need to be practical, and sometimes that means dressing in ways that accommodate for our daily tasks.
What piece of Internet ephemera (Tweet, YouTube video, meme, etc.) do you think deserves a place in the history books?
MV: I think all of them, collectively, are probably deserving of mention as they have become such an intrinsic part of how we communicate today. They are also quite indicative of our culture (whether it’s for better or worse) and mindset.
CI: I recently saw a tweet video of a baby holding on to the robotic vacuum cleaner getting a joyride. I thought that was brilliant. But so much of meme culture I think is good for a laugh, a moment, and should not be kept in history. I haven't come up yet with anything else for this answer, how sad.
It’s 2019 and the cancel culture is rife. A friend of yours says something objectionable in a private conversation amongst close friends. What do you do?
MV: I think we are all quite quick to judge. I would try to listen, ask questions, and try to understand what they mean before I make a conclusion. You never know what you might learn.
CI: No one is perfect. But I think debate and conversation is always best — the same goes for global politics.
You’re at a social gathering and are trapped with an unfamiliar face who you’d rather not converse/mingle with further. What’s your exit/salvaging strategy?
MV: Since I don’t know them yet, I would not have yet decided I did not want to converse with them.
CI: Oh, but I love discovering unfamiliar faces and meeting new people so, to be honest, I'd probably be peppering them with questions about their life.
With no further context, what’s the best reassurance you can offer someone who’s, as millennials say, really “going through it”?
MV: It is all about going through it, it is not about getting there. You have to enjoy the journey as they say, with all the highs and lows.
CI: Work hard, push yourself to experience things you normally might not naturally do, and be curious. It will all work out.
The Monica Vinader x Caroline Issa collection is now available online and at their stockists.
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