Saturday 26 May 2018

Romantic soul: style queen Lisa Salzer on creating Lulu Frost

Gifts of vintage jewellery from her grandmother touched the heart of New York style queen Lisa Salzer, and put her on the road to creating her own brand Lulu Frost. In advance of her first trip to Ireland this week, she tells our Fashion Editor about her impossibly chic wedding - styled with the help of an Irish pal - and her latest collection

Passion: Lisa with models showcasing her Baroque collection in 2014
Passion: Lisa with models showcasing her Baroque collection in 2014
Lisa Salzer on honeymoon in Morocco.
Lisa at work in her New York studio.
Lulu Frost's 'Radiant' earrings, €265
Lisa's home in the West Village.
The 'Veruschka' statement necklace, €569.
The 'Jackie'ring, €140.
Lisa Salzer with husband Marlon on their wedding day.
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Picture the scene: Lisa Salzer, designer and creator of the Lulu Frost jewellery brand, marries contemporary ballet dancer Marlon Taylor-Wiles at Montauk in New York, with the infinite horizon of the ocean as their backdrop.

The dress - well, it was three looks really - a Romana Keveza quadruple crepe gown that moved from day to night; opening with a long and lean look with sleeves, adding a horsehair over-skirt for cocktail hour and the first dance and removing the sleeves for a totally new look as they lit a bonfire on the beach.

Then, there was her jewellery which - not surprisingly for a designer famed for her aesthetic of vintage and antique meets contemporary - was thoughtfully chosen for the big day last October.

Lisa wore antique pearl and diamond studs owned by her grandmother, Elizabeth Frost, (her jewellery line's name takes Frost from her grandmother's name and adds Lulu which is her own pet name), an inspirational force from Liverpool who ran an estate jewellery store in Pennsylvania for 40 years and instilled in Lisa a passion for jewellery.

The bride also had plenty of choice among her own collections (fans include Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift) in the end opting for astrological pieces from her new Constellation range, which launches this summer. "I wore Scorpio, which is my sign, in my right ear and Cancer, Marlon's sign, in my left ear, a symbol of our union in the cosmos," explains Lisa, on the phone from her studio in New York's Flatiron district.

As a wedding gift, Lisa's Irish pal, Tess Casey from Aisling Flowers in New York, planned the event. There were sumptuous orchids as well as orange marigolds that were a nod to Lisa's time living in Nepal when she was 16. Moroccan rugs and cushions set the tone for the couple's honeymoon in North Africa. (Lisa, pictured above, kept the colourful theme going while standing alongside vibrant blue walls in Morocco).

"Tess is so incredible, she is a very special woman and her work has appeared on film and TV sets including Sex And The City, The Devil Wears Prada and Boardwalk Empire," says Lisa, who travels to Dublin next week at the invitation of Louise Stokes of Loulerie, for an invitation only trunk show at the Chatham Street jewellery store on May 13.

There is a powerful synchronicity between the New Yorker and the Cork woman, both of whom had the gift of dynamic grandmothers, and mothers, who influenced their creative paths in life.

Tess was studying at Crawford School of Art in Cork when she used to help out her grandmother and mother at their shop, The Shamrock, on the Grand Parade. It triggered a love of flowers and she travelled to London to train before moving to New York.

Meanwhile, Lisa's mum Linda also plays a part in the brand's success and buys the precious and semi-precious stones for Lisa's one-off pieces - some of which Lisa is bringing to Dublin for sale in Loulerie between May 14-17.

Full of praise for women like Jackie Kennedy, Marianne Faithful, Eartha Kitt and Veruschka who inspired her SS16 collection, Mod Mode, Lisa is an inspiring entrepreneur who started out when she was still studying art history - sourcing pieces at local Vermont and New Hampshire flea markets.

She said if Lulu Frost didn't take off in a year, she would get a normal job. Happily, her first collection based on a canny idea, was spotted by someone at American Vogue and in 2005, Anna Wintour recognised her as innovative.

And the idea?

"I bought all the room numbers from the doors of the Plaza Hotel when it was being renovated, they gave me my claim to fame. It was a repurposing of something very traditional," says Lisa who turned them into necklaces and bracelets with numbers as charms. She spotted them at an architectural salvage company and bought every last one - 2,500 in total.

Numbers have always been important to her and 11 is Lisa's lucky number.

"Something good always happens when I see 11:11 on the clock and when I see it, I think it is a good omen," says Lisa. Indeed, Marlon, who is founder of the Flying Under The Radar dance company, proposed to Lisa at 11:11 at the spot in the West Village where they met three years earlier.

The Lulu Frost SS16 collection, Mod Mode, was inspired by women like Jackie Kennedy and model and actress Veruschka. This Art Deco-inspired adjustable glass pearl ring, statement necklace and earrings are available from Loulerie, 14b Chatham Street, Dublin 2. See loulerie.com

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