I ask Imogen Belfield what she thinks she will be remembered for. Her answer is simple, straight-forward “Big, bold and sculptural jewellery“. I remember the first time I came across one of her designs. It was a beautiful, chunky looking, golden ring gracing the hand of singer, Lily Allen, on the cover of ‘STYLE’ magazine. The designer behind the object of my love, was none other than Londoner, Imogen Belfield. Awards, coveted collections, the marriage of different materials and the merging of unlikely worlds being all the things that she was known for, were the things that made her and her designs so attractive.
To understand, Imogen Belfield, you have to think of a heavyset, concrete building blending with a field of porcelain flowers and adorned with gold, silver and brass. Imogen works with paper, plastic and even fruits and stones, she doesn’t stop at the conventional. She takes inspiration from the world surrounding her, from real life fashion icons like Grace Jones to the exhibits at the British Museum. She has an identity, a clear idea of aesthetics that she remains loyal to. Her designs combine delicate and clunky, art and realism. Most importantly, she has a soft spot for Johnny Depp, high waisted black leather trousers and beetroot and she loves hanging out in bars on top of car parks. Imogen Belfield does not seem to have been dazzled by the dazzling success she is exposed to. Despite her incredible talent, she is incredibly down to earth.
How did you and ‘fashion’ first meet?
I literally used to live in the dressing up box, and have always had a fascination with fashion. This then developed into Jewellery, creating miniature sculptures to adorn the body, sparked by my interest in Fine Art, sculpture and metal work at school.
Where did you study and what did you get from the experience?
I studied at Sir John Cass school of Art in London. I have fond memories of my degree, as I had a wealth of facilities available to me, and workshop and studio space available 5 days a week. I had a lovely group of tutors in the jewellery and ceramics departments also. The ability to be able to use these facilities and be taught in both departments is where I learnt to combine porcelain with metal.
Your biggest inspirations in terms of your designs?
Rocks and natural form. Amazing fruit and veg markets with wild and wonderful looking delectable’s sourced from all over the world. Brick Lane is great for this.
Who have you worked with so far?
I have just completed a couple of collaborations with Fashion Designers Francesca Marotta and with Eugene Lin for SS12. There were challenges along the way first collaborations I’ve done, and it was great fun to do, plus I learnt a lot through the challenges that emerged along the way.
Your favourite era for design and why?
I love what’s happening in design now, and the use of technology to create amazingly theatrical shows for the catwalk.
Your favourite piece that you have designed? And how would you style it.
The Ferero Ring – as it is a multi functional piece. It can be slung onto a chunky chain and worn as a necklace or worn simply as a knuckle ring.
Proudest moment so far?
Being awarded the Bright Young Gem 2011 at International Jewellery London, by Hilary Alexander….
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Ooh, lots of people… Thierry Mugler would be amazing.
Who do you have in mind when you are designing?
Grace Jones and Bjork
A few likes and a few dislikes in terms of design and style aesthetic?
I love sculptural form, big, daring, challenging and statement. I dislike twee, unconsidered, un-original.
When did your love for architecture and nature first make its way into your designs and what triggered it?
During my degree, I studied right next to the city, with towering sky scrapers all around. I also saw the Zaha Hadid exhibition at the Design Museum which blew my mind, I was hooked ever since. She is such an inspiration to women. My walk to uni everyday was through Brick Lane, so would always be on the look out for new weird and wonderful things to find in the markets there.
What do you get up to when you are not designing? what else do you like doing?
Being by the sea, going to gigs (I love live music), being with friends and hanging out in bars on top of car parks Peckham styley!!
Your favourite piece in your own wardrobe and why?
My Aunt has amazing style and she has handed me down some amazing pieces through the years… Including these amazing high waisted black leather trousers and a fuchsia pink silk blazer jacket.
Your favourite things about your job, any negatives?
I can’t say there are any negatives at all. I feel incredibly lucky to be a designer in London and survive solely through my trade. It is such a buzz to work in the world of fashion, and to be able to be creative for a living. I LOVE it with a passion.
Your favourite movie, musical act, pin-up, place?
Labyrinth, my brother DJ Assassin, Johnny Depp (of course), the South of France.
How has social media affected your business? Which platforms do you use? Is it beneficial, do you enjoy it, do you struggle to keep up with the demands of twitter/facebook etc?
Twitter and Facebook are incredibly useful tools to market your work by, and have it seen by a much wider audience. I also use my blog on my website to regularly update with the latest press stories about the brand.
A fact about yourself that not many people know?
I shall be moving studios to the brand new Goldsmiths’ Centre in Hatton Garden in the next couple of months.
Find Imogen Belfield’s jewellery at KABIRI