Steve Lagos, jeweler and world traveller extraordinaire, discovered his passion for designing jewelry when he was 17. After mastering the trade (with help from a Russian mentor), Lagos founded his own company, LAGOS, in 1977. His signature design came into being when he transformed the luxury of caviar into an intricate and delicate piece of jewelry.
The original look has been further developed into other lines, including Black Caviar, White Caviar, and Caviar Color. His newest interpretation is the Caviar Icon collection; it features colorful precious gemstones adorned by caviar accents. As part of the new collection, LAGOS has created beautiful pieces exclusive to Neiman Marcus.
We talked with the designer recently and asked him about all things LAGOS.
What inspired you, at such a young age, to start designing jewelry? What type of materials and designs were you working with then?
I have always believed that jewelry is one of the most enduring and personal forms of art. Jewelry is so intertwined with people’s lives, and this exists in every culture, everywhere in the world. With this in mind, I set out to become a master jeweler and learn the classic old-world techniques working with gold and precious gemstones.
After years spent perfecting my skills, I was ready to create my own line of jewelry. It took some time to find my voice, and in 1984 we launched The Caviar collection, our signature design.
Travel is a large source of inspiration for a lot of your work — are there any places in particular that have had a significant impact on your designs or fueled a lot of creativity?
My frequent travels to Asia, Europe, and the Americas inspire me. I love exploring different cultures and am constantly stimulated by simply taking in the sights and sounds of the places that I visit. Beyond my travels, there is a LAGOS woman who serves as the Muse for everything I create. Strong while feminine, she is successful, smart and has a classic and effortless style. She inspires me the most.
How is your travel reflected in your designs — specifically the new exclusive for Neiman Marcus and Caviar Icon collection?
I love color. Whether it’s big and bold gemstones or just a hint, it always adds a different dimension to the work. The Caviar Color collection uses bold-colored gems with strong design cues. These signature shapes highlight the rich colors and are detailed with 18-karat gold accents. Our LAGOS woman can wear these pieces from day into evening with confidence.
What was the inspiration/thinking behind your original — and now signature — caviar design?
It all started with a necklace. Thousands of tiny hematite beads twisted into a torsade necklace that actually looked like caviar. The shape and the pattern of the beads were so rich and appealing. It is the way they caught the light, their soft yet strong texture, and the flexibility of the motif that keeps me inspired. Over the years I have deconstructed/reconstructed this concept into literally thousands of designs.
What type of woman wears the new Black Caviar versus the original silver?
It’s the same woman. Black is a cornerstone color in any wardrobe. It makes a strong statement while remaining completely neutral. Silver and gold accents make it the perfect complement to any bracelet stack, or it can be worn solo as a statement piece. While it took years to create and develop, it became an instant classic and is now an inspiration for many new ideas. Black is basic and here to stay.
What can were expect from LAGOS in the future?
I love to innovate and marry classic old-world techniques, quality gems, and workmanship with innovation and technology. Next fall season, we celebrate our 40th anniversary in business and 33 years since we introduced Caviar. This is a huge milestone for me and a huge source of pride. I can’t really say what’s next, but I’m working on several big ideas. I get up every morning feeling like the best is yet to come … stay tuned.