The bold and the beautiful … In this case, the dazzlingly dramatic cast of characters are the baubles from Dallas native Lele Sadoughi’s namesake line, first released two years ago. Her statement pieces — architectural necklaces, vibrant crystal earrings, striking cocktail rings, 14K gold cuffs — often call to mind the modish accessories found on eye-catching display at J. Crew boutiques. Very fitting, as creative director Jenna Lyons personally recruited Sadoughi in 2006 to start a jewelry line for the dynamic brand. Though she now calls New York City home with her husband and two young children, the Greenhill grad jets home to Dallas every few months, most recently to pop in to Highland Park Village’s Madison boutique, which carries her collection.
Inspiration for Holiday/Resort 2015.
It’s all about mixed metals. I was coming off a season that was feminine and full of color, so I wanted something more geometric. It was inspired by the arcade and pinball machines — I’m into a lot of architectural machines and pieces from the 40s. There are lots of pearls, and I use ribbons and grooves so the jewelry is very functional.
Madison has carried my line since the beginning, which is fabulous. They’ve been really good about buying it as a collection. It’s nice to be in that kind of store where it feels special to have my whole collection represented. Also, my first order ever was on neimanmarcus.com, so that was very exciting, being a Dallas girl.
Starting J. Crew jewelry.
I met with Jenna Lyons, who was thinking of doing jewelry — there was none at the time. She said, “Here’s a stipend. Can you come back, make a mood board and tell me what you think the jewelry would be?” I left thinking, “Wait, did I just get hired?” That lasted more than five years. It was amazing to have the opportunity to be in the department of such a well-known corporation. That’s where I garnered great relationships with manufacturers. The timing was really fortuitous because it was during the downfall of the economy, with J. Crew known for being affordable and good quality. I worked well with the company because my aesthetic is very fun and colorful.
Moving on to Tory Burch.
She wanted me to be the designer of their collection. I said, “Yes, but I’ve started my own line and can’t come in every day,” and she said, “That’s fine!” I was doing both for a year, until I gave birth to my first kid. It was a breath of fresh air that Tory really knows her style. It was really easy to get inside her head and create for her because she is the brand. That’s what’s so inspiring to me. While I was designing for her, she was doing a photo shoot for Vogue for her new fragrance. The stylist had a bunch of [jewelry] options, one of which was a Lele Sadoughi necklace. Tory didn’t know who made the necklace, but she liked it, wore it and asked her stylist to get her one. It was very flattering that she didn’t realize it was me but liked the aesthetic.
Living in London.
For a semester, I took fashion courses at Central Saint Martins. It was the last time I was able to sit and draw for four hours from live models. Now, I’m lucky if I can sit at my desk for 30 minutes and do a nice sketch.
The girl who wears your jewelry.
It’s someone who really likes fashion, appreciates things that are different and is not afraid to try new things. The world of costume jewelry is so quick, and you have the opportunity to change your look all the time, so I think it’s somebody who really cares about feeling different and feeling good.
Jewelry you love.
I’m always drawn to Art Deco, like the 20s through 40s. I also like really big scale — pieces from the 60s, pre-50s. I love silver Mexican jewelry, too; not necessarily Southwestern jewelry, but more of the modern, big, bold pieces.
What you’re working on now.
I just finished my spring line. The theme is modern garden, so lots of ivy greens and tulip shapes. Sometimes I think I go from a little bit masculine to more feminine — maybe it’s because I have a son and a daughter. My next goal is to have a store in Manhattan. I really want people to be able to touch and feel the jewelry.