Victoria Simes makes designing jewelry look natural
Story by Nicole Schlomann / Photography by Dorothy Hong
Stylist-cum-jewelry designer Victoria Simes may just be the ultimate multitasker. While conquering the fashion world at FIT and styling for industry-darling Maria Cornejo, the Long Island-born artist began creating stunning jewelry that quickly has become a favorite among New York’s Lower East-side crowd and fashion editors alike, all looking for that special statement piece. Creating jewelry under the collection “Saltalamachia” (her grandmother’s maiden name) and in collaboration with Maria Cornejo, Simes has won over scores of women — and men — with her gorgeously sinuous necklaces made of twisted chains, yarn, and horse hair.
Growing up, Simes would watch her grandmother knit and fell in love with the organically beautiful yarn she used. “I like natural looking materials,” she says, decked out in a black bowler hat, one of her trademark necklaces, and a draped dark top. “I don’t like to do fine jewelry—my stuff is more artsy and craftsy and homemade. I don’t like to go through a factory and I think my jewelry is more wearable that way.” Simes also constantly draws inspiration from Maria Cornejo, whom she has known seven years and says “is like family.” “She’s into sculptural, architectural shapes,” explains Simes, “My design fits very well with hers.”
In addition to collaborating with her design friend on jewelry pieces for the Zero Maria Cornejo line, Simes also works in the designer’s shop, does fashion consulting, styles runway shows, and creates store displays. What started out as jewelry for styling became her growing passion and occupation as Simes created pieces in her free time, and was convinced by curator and friend Stephanie Pappas to sell her wares. So how does she find time to work on her own line? “I work constantly,” says Simes, who finds time for her personal collection by working long nights and taking it slow. “I want my career to build slowly,” she explains. “I like word of mouth and I don’t need to push it or make tons of money. I feel like I can stay around longer that way.”
Wise words from a woman who’s already gaining a devoted following. Her knotted, asymmetrical pieces are no doubt loved for their strikingly fresh and original quality. From brightly dyed horsetail necklaces to tangled yarn and chain, Simes’ jewelry leaves a lasting impression. Most importantly to Simes, her pieces can be worn by both men and women at any time and any place. “My boyfriend looks so hot in them,” she laughs. Speaking about the function of her accessories she says,”I think it’s a lifestyle to make you feel better, look better and give you a style. You can wear it every single day — it becomes who you are as a person. “ She encourages men to wear jewelry close to their skin, which makes them “feel more comfortable in it.” And while she admits that the looks are “not for preppy guys,” she’s excited about men wearing the designs and “making them their own.”
It’s fitting that Simes sites the somewhat androgynous and futuristic designs of Rick Owens, Anne Demeulemeester, and Martin Margiela as some of her favorites. Just as with Simes, these designers’ fans are drawn to their edgy, dark, and entrancing looks. Looking toward the future, Simes plans on delivering more of her signature style in prolific amounts. She’s already begun using new materials like crystal beads, experimenting with headpieces, horsetail sculptures and extreme necklaces, and will be showing at New York’s House of Eva gallery opening this month. She even has sketches of dog leashes and collars in her notebook, and wonders whether she could make hoop earrings —“so trashy,” look cool. Whatever she comes up with next, it’s sure to bring hordes of new supporters. But the real gauge of her success could be the grandmother who has consistently inspired her over the years. “She’s very conservative,” laughs Simes, “but she thinks my designs are adorable.”