A Moment with ... Designer Maria Francesca Pepe
Jewellery-wear designer has celebs like Rihanna and Lady Gaga as fans
Rihanna wore her pink gold necklace with ruthenium clasp to the Brit Awards earlier this year; her commissioned tiara was part of Lady Gaga's Saturday Night Live performance getup; and she's received a startling number of celebrity endorsements -- including from Sienna Miller, Cheryl Cole, Agness Deyn, just to name a few -- worldwide editorial spreads and brand collaborations, and a nomination for New Talent in Accessories at the British Fashion Awards, all before she turned 35.
Not bad at all, for a jewellery-wear designer who majored in Literature in university and came into the game late with her eponymous label MariaFrancescaPepe (MFP for short) in 2009.
"I always felt the need to express myself creatively, so at a certain point of my studies I felt the need to get my hands 'dirty' and start making stuff besides analysing or writing about it," says the UK-based, Italian native Pepe, who's in Singapore this week as part of Audi Fashion Festival's sister event, Blueprint.
Not long after the launch of MFP, she exploded onto the scene, working with industry heavyweights like creative director Nicola Formichetti and Victoria Secret's casting director Sophia Neophitou, and having her line stocked at major retail lines, thus paving the way to her current status as The Next Big Thing in the fashion world.
Perhaps one of the (many) reasons for her success: Pepe isn't your run-of-the-mill jewellery designer that the industry seems to be rife with. For starters, she works around the concept of jewellery-wear, which blurs the line between clothing and accessories and puts jewellery as the primary focus in any given outfit. Each of her pieces is handcrafted by selected artisans and factories, and carries a "gothic, romantic and pop-kitch mixed aesthetic".
"My inspiration is in constant movement, and it really depends on what I am going through with my life, people I met, places I go, music I listen to," she elaborates. These days, she draws influence from the likes of Alexander Wang, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, and her muse, late American silent film actress, Theda Bara.
And like designer worth her weight in salt, Pepe busy will be keeping busy the year ahead. "After the launch of this first pre-collection at Blueprint, we will introduce an exclusive men's capsule collection in London and Florence, as well as a summer diffusion line for Urban Outfitters. I'm so excited!" Watch this space; you'll be hearing plenty more from Maria Francesca Pepe.
LifestyleAsia (LSA): What are some of your must-have jewellery items everyday?
Maria Francesca Pepe (MFP): Rings of any sort, especially with crosses. And earrings! I have 7 or 8 piercings -- I can't remember anymore.
LSA: To many people, jewellery comes almost as an afterthought in their daily dressing. What are some of the simple ways someone can spruce up their outfit without having to go through a lot of trouble?
MFP: Wear a cross necklace and some eyeliner.
LSA: Your jewellery have been used by many noted stylists and on famous celebrities. If you could design a collection for anyone, who would it be?
MFP: Rihanna has become one of MFP's most faithful ambassadors so I think I'd choose her.
LSA: As a young and successful designer, what words of advice do you have for aspiring designers?
MFP: Work hard but never force situations that are not meant to be. Never feel like you've failed, but always remember that change is a good thing. Also, listen to good music!
LSA: What should visitors to Blueprint expect from MFP?
MFP: Cool kick-ass jewellery you cannot wait to wear!
Like what you’re reading? Head over to LifestyleAsia.com and check out the Style section. Check out what fashion designers Evon Tan and Belinda Ang have to say about starting out and working in the cutthroat industry.
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A Moment with ... Designer Maria Francesca Pepe
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