Two weeks ago, WYV founder and Editor In Chief, Ravneet Vohra, and I visited clothing designer Gina Di Girolamo’s home and studio for a public preview of collections by her and goldsmith Tura Sugden, and I must say, the location, crowd, and both collections were quite lovely.
Hailing from a long line of sewers, Gina originally learned how to sew from her mother, but quickly abandoned Simplicity patterns to fulfill her desire to create her own original looks.
In a moment of empowerment, after years of traveling, painting, constructing her own designs, and upcycling other garments to make them her own, Gina decided to go to school, and it was the best decision she ever made. She chose the Academy of Art because of her love for the Bay, having grown up in Pacifica, and she and her husband moved to Oakland six or seven years ago because…well, I don’t think I need to explain — Oakland speaks for itself. Gina loves Oakland’s diversity, how happy people are to be here, and the space and movement of our awesome city.
Gina says, “My inspiration is endlessly nature and the human body in an environment, and it’s always gonna be very flattering, it’s always gonna be very simple — you want the person to really shine through… As a designer, I’ve really gotten more comfortable with shapes and my abilities in general, construction, and trusting myself.”
She says her inspiration usually comes the twenties and thirties, “where everything’s sort of ornate, but simple at the same time…so easy to wear, but beautiful — with attention to detail, which I think got lost recently in fast fashion… So everything I make is handmade, which takes so much time, but it all means so much to me, and I do it with so much care and attention that I hope it (lasts) forever.”
Gina chooses comfortable, washable fabrics made from natural fibers. She definitely knows a woman’s body, and her designs look great on a wide range of body-types. Plus, most of her garments could easily be dressed up or down. This open-back dress is my personal fav from her collection.
Daily, Gina gathers photos to hang on her mood boards, some of which hang on the walls of her studio, others, so personal she would never leave them out for her guest to see. Check out her tumblr account to follow her journey ongoing inspiration, then check out her website to see the way her inspiration manifests itself in her garments (and to buy them).
And now, on to Tura Sugden’s elegant jewelry…
While getting her BFA in Sculpture, Tura started to focus on small sculpture, which led to metalwork and jewelry. She says, “For me, that was a space that was way more comfortable, cause I’m on a small scale physically, and working on a small scale just felt really right.” She’s not lying: she’s an itsy-bitsy cutie-patootie.
After six years of apprenticing with other goldsmiths, she started designing this collection six and a half months ago, and took the plunge to start working on her line and custom pieces full time a month and a half ago.
When speaking about the evolution of her style, Tura told me, at first she just paid attention to the stones’ shape – preferably flat stones, then she got into lifting them with prongs, next her attention went towards light and shadow play, and she now realizes that her designs are very similar to traditional costume jewelry, but they are markedly different, in that her pieces look delicate, as opposed to chunky, and elegant without over-embellishment (no hate towards beloved chunky, over-embellished costume jewelry).
Tura picks all her gems by hand from dealers she’s developed relationships with throughout her years as a goldsmith, only buying from people she connects with because she cares about the energy and integrity of jewelry.
She works with gold only — 18 and 22 carat yellow gold, and 18 carat palladium gold (white gold).
Custom pieces she’s created for clients include various engagement and wedding bands, a matching cufflink and earring engagement set, and a baby rattle engraved with the family crest. Locally, her work can be found at De Novo in Palo Alto, and is also sold at Belle Aquatic in Harbor Springs, MI, and you can purchase jewelry or reach out to her for custom pieces through her website.
Listen to my interview with Tura below!
* Photo of Gina Di Girolamo’s open-back dress by Melissa Kaseman
** The slideshow of Gina’s collection can be viewed on our youtube channel by clicking here.
*** The slideshow of Tura’s collection can be viewed on our youtube channel by clicking here.