Collage by Sadie Souter with images from Pixabay and Leila’s artwork
Leïla Ardant-Carpentier gathers inspiration for her new jewellery range from Frida Kahlo, vintage markets and nature
Jewellery is a universal form of expression, dating back over 115,000 years when a Neanderthal collected small orange sea shells and strung them together as a necklace.
From a magical amulet to ward off bad luck and illness, to a mark of status and wealth, jewellery has always had the unique power to reflect human identity.
My jewellery icon is Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. In her numerous introspective self-portraits, one of the ways we can see into her soul is through her gleaming, chunky necklaces and bold earrings.
Frida was a trailblazer in fashion, way beyond her time. Known as a “flower power pioneer”, her style has a clear influence on the flower crowns, long skirts and beaded necklaces of the festival scene.
The floral, psychedelic designs of the Sixties always catch my eye. As a kid I was fascinated by my granny’s glinting jewellery box. As I got older, I started to look for inspiration in charity shops and vintage markets.
Collage by Sadie using Leila’s earring designs
During this second lockdown, with more time on my hands, I have been experimenting with making my own jewellery, combining my love of statement earrings, with my passion for nature and patterns with Sixties vibes. Check out some of my art from earlier this year!
I spend so much time in parks on energising walks with friends. I find being out in the elements fires my imagination, with all the beautiful, bold and intricate patterns that flowers, trees, rocks and rivers can make.
I’ve chosen simple shapes from the natural world; stars, diamonds, spheres and teardrops, for my earring range. Then I decorate them with designs which reflect the detail I find in the spread of a flower, the rings of a tree or the fleece of a cloud.
Making the most of what I found lying around the house, I got to work.
I began by cutting out a card template, my first being a star, and I designed a pattern using brightly coloured marker pens, tracing out the same on the other side. I pressed the shape between two sheets of plastic, leaving room at the top to punch a hole for the earring wire to thread through.
Collage by Sadie of Leila’s Depop shop
I made my first pair of these earrings for my friend’s 18th, picking out colours and shapes that I felt reflected her style and personality. To my surprise, she loved them, and she encouraged me to set up a Depop account. Take a look here.
Recently, with my growing interest in textiles, I’ve started to use other materials like felt and cotton threads to experiment with texture.
In the future, I would love to delve deeper into my heritage and explore my French and Moroccan roots. I’m intrigued by the iridescent filigree of the Parisian Art Nouveau period and the Hand of Fatima of the Moroccan Berber tradition; a symbol supposed to ward off evil spirits.
I love that when I put these funky, vibrant, big earrings on, I feel like I can pull off anything. I get this kind of confidence because the way you dress can totally transform the way you behave and see yourself. Go on and treat yourself to a pair of earrings, I guarantee they’ll make you feel good!