Image by Jay McLaughlin
Coming off her win at the Courture Design Awards for ‘Best Gold’ last year, Imogen Belfield has taken the Jewellery world by storm with her unmissable and eye catching designs. Already coveted by the likes of Georgia May Jagger, Uma Thurman, Nicole Scherzinger and Rita Ora her ‘rockesque’ sculptural pieces have earned her mentions from Vogue and Vogue Italia as one to watch. She takes the time to answer our burning questions about her plethora of success since graduating from Sir John Cass Faculty of Art in 2008, where she finds inspiration and advice she has for emerging students in the industry.
1. What made you go into jewellery design? Was it something you were always interested in or did something veer you in that direction?
It began with a love for sculpture and fashion. Spending a lot of time in Cornwall, including studying at Falmouth, had a profound impact on my direction into metalwork, and the work I was starting to create.
2. Your jewellery is quite distinct and often quite earthy and chunky, how long does it take on average for you to make a piece?
It is the initial concept and design that takes several months. Including research, travel and inspiration. After the designs are drawn up and models made, the initial samples can take several weeks to complete from start to finish. The one off designs and bespoke commissions, which I love to create for my clients, can take up to 3 months also.
3. You’ve been named by both Vogue and Vogue Italia as one to watch and have had numerous celebrities wearing your pieces. Is there one celebrity you were especially excited about wearing your work?
It is always really exciting, but two moments that stand out in particular were when my ‘Vagabond’ golden glove was flown out to New York for Madonna to wear, and when Kim Kardashian wore my ‘Organic Spear’ choker necklace for Paris Fashion Week.
4. Is there a celebrity who you specifically would like to wear your jewellery? Or an event you would love to see your pieces worn to?
I would love to see St Vincent wear my creations on stage. An accessory to her majestic guitar performances. Or the statuesque Tilda Swinton wearing my jewellery to the Oscars would be incredible.
5. You have done some collaborative work with Daphne Guinness and Alexander McQueen for their catwalks. How does that experience compare to how you usually make jewellery? And would you do more projects like that in the future?
I love the theatrical element to jewellery. My work has an intrinsic boldness and sculptural quality to it. Upscaling my pieces into large sculptures for interiors or the stage and film are projects we are currently working on, and I can’t wait for them to come to fruition.
6. Your latest collection was inspired by Ancient Greece. How do you usually find inspiration for your pieces?
Living in London means there is no limit to being inspired. I get to travel quite a bit, and places such as Sedona in Arizona have been a great source of inspiration to my work.
7. There is something quite raw about materials and texture of your jewellery design compared to others, were you always interested in this aesthetic or did it develop over a lot of trial and error?
I have always been drawn to texture. Probably a combination of my formative years, growing up in the countryside, and endless summers on the beaches in Cornwall, soaking up the rugged coastal landscape. Combined with my love of fashion. Especially architectural designs by Issey Miyake and Balenciaga.
8. On your website it describes your jewellery as ‘creating rockesque jewellery sculptures’, would you describe what you do as more in the realm of wearable art than commercial jewellery?
I think we have been able to bridge that gap quite carefully, by creating a commercially successful business over the past 7 years, without compromising on the creativeness and ‘rockesque’ quality to the jewellery itself. We have a very loyal following, and it is important to me to stay true to my brand.
9. Congratulations on winning the ‘Best in Gold’ at the Couture Design Awards last year with your impressive ‘Amazonian Goddess necklace’. Has this achievement changed much for you and your work?
This was such an amazing moment and it still gives me goose bumps thinking about! A career highlight for sure! Stephen Webster has been an incredible mentor to me, and it was he who introduced me to the Couture show 6 years ago, inviting myself alongside fellow Rock Vault designers, to exhibit in his ballroom. Since winning I have expanded the IB fine jewellery range and continue to create many bespoke pieces for clients including wedding and engagement rings as well as couture jewellery pieces.
10. You graduated from the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art London in 2008 but by 2010 had already won the ‘New Designer award of the Year One Year On’ followed by a continuous string of other awards. What advice would you have for students looking to make it in the fashion industry from your own experience?
Seize every opportunity, work hard and be focused. Write a business plan and set yourself achievable 6 months, and yearly goals. It’s ok if your goals change over time, but it’s important to have a vision that is clear, and by writing it down within the structure of a business frame, makes it all that more likely to become a reality!