Jewellery designer of the moment| Meet Nicole Akong

The One to Watch, designer Nicole Akong

The One to Watch, designer Nicole AkongWalking around the exhibitions at London Fashion Week, I couldn’t just pass by the Akong London stand without stopping – colourful, hand-made jewellery caught my eye immediately.

Nicole Akong is the jewellery designer behind the label. Born and raised in the West Indies, she graduated with a degree in Fine Art and moved to London where she spent the next 8 years building a successful career. Unknown to most, during that time, she was also a hot London DJ. Her career as a designer blossomed within a very short period. Nicole took her first jewellery making course just 3 years prior to becoming the brains behind her very own jewellery label, Akong London.

Established at the start of 2010, the label, which is not only about extravagant accessories, has one clear ethos — to make exquisite statement jewellery to either possess and adore or forever covet. Each piece of Akong London jewellery is scrupulously handmade and the variety of Nicole’s work can surely satisfy even the pickiest customers. Her collection features semi-precious gemstones, goose feathers, glass and crystal, organic cords, velvet and lashings of gold and silver chains.

With an impressive track record that includes being chosen as one of 14 new design talents by Italian Vogue, being nominated for the New Designer of The Year award  as well as regularly appearing in publications like Vogue,  Harper’s Bazaar or Grazia UK, there is no wonder why industry insiders deem Akong as one to watch.

I met Nicole Akong, a designer whose jewellery can transform a plain t-shirt into a head-turning outfit, for a brief chat….

How did you start your career in jewellery designing?

I am not a trained jeweller. I am mostly self-taught. I started experimenting, making jewellery about three year ago and got such a good reaction from my friends and colleagues that I decided to create and then launch the Akong London brand.

Everything was done by me. I did my first show in January last year and it did go really well. Ever since then my passion for jewellery has grown stronger.

Which designer would you most like to meet?

Probably Cartier. Someone who is really old school and did exquisitely beautiful stuff.

Your biggest inspiration in terms of your design?

I tend to get a lot of inspiration from sourcing materials. When I go sourcing materials I often get inspired by different trims, different colours and I immediately see the potential of what something can become.

Your favourite era for design and why?

70’s I think, but not disco 70’s. You know, when you look at some old, childhood photos people have with that kind of washed-out 70’s look. It’s something very nostalgic, simple but sort of very retro.

Proudest moment so far?

Well, I was nominated for a jewellery award recently, the New Designer of the Year. That was very important for me and also I got some quite good media coverage. There were really good features in magazines about Akong London.

Favourite piece in your own wardrobe?

The piece that I love the most is a robe that I have got. It’s not just like a traditional robe. It’s more like a flowing gown with amazing print. Oriental with very rich colours and gold edging. If I could wear that all day I would!

What kind of music do you listen to?

I tend to listen to a lot of West Indian music like reggae but usually when I am working I actually have top radio on; BBC World Service, documentaries, really boring stuff but when I’m working it’s just nice to listen to stories, even audio books. I prefer that actually than listening to the music.

You will be remembered for…?

I think just being quite innovative with some of my jewellery. My last collection particularly; I know of two designers that use pieces from it as inspiration for their next collections. They are big, well-known designers so I’m really delighted about it and that’s what matters. My work inspires not just customers and buyers but other designers as well and I think that is a huge complement.

Stockists include Selfridges, EC One, Harvey Nichols, Kabiri and ASOS.

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