Q&A: Elizabeth Galton
How did you become a jewellery designer?
When I was younger I was interested in fashion styling, hair and makeup, but eventually realised that it didn't give me a lasting product. I always found jewellery fascinating, so I decided to go to Central Saint Martins to get my BA, followed by an MA in jewellery design from the Royal College of Art in London. I launched my own label as soon as I left school.
What was your style from the outset?
At school I was doing big-scale pieces that were completely mad and not at all commercial. College was an opportunity for us to be as creative as possible so I really allowed myself to experiment. That started to change as I began doing various projects such as commissions for ad campaigns and designs for store windows. It was great because it boosted my profile in the press. Five years later I started showing at London Fashion Week and travelling to Paris to show my collection.
Did you find it hard to establish yourself in the fashion industry?
It's interesting because I was very lucky from the start. Things really kicked off in 2005 when I took part in a programme on the BBC called Dragon's Den. The best way to describe it is as a Pop Idol for aspiring businesspeople. Each candidate has to pitch an investment idea to a panel of investors in the hope of securing funds for their business. Fortunately, they picked me, and I was backed by a company that helped me expand my line. When the show aired again a year later, I was approached by another investor and that was when I really established my brand.
You're now creative director at Links of London. What propelled you into this role?
I was getting a lot of attention in the press, and in 2006 and 2007 I was nominated for British Jewellery Designer of the Year. That's when the brand started to notice my work and it approached me in 2007. I was thrilled because I loved the brand, but I also thought its product range could be further developed. It also gave me a chance to branch out into watches and leather accessories, and to get involved in packaging and visuals. There was so much potential, so I jumped at it.
What changes have you brought in?
My style is sculptural and high-impact, and I wanted to bring that aesthetic to Links while respecting the brand's DNA. We're not a fashion brand but focused on a lifestyle, so for me it's about evolution rather than revolution. What I've done is introduce a couture line, which is made to order and that, I hope, will generate a buzz. The pieces are currently on a world tour and every season I will create a few fashion-focused items, in addition to a full ready-to-wear line. I also want to shake up the men's jewellery line, as cufflinks are very much part of the brand's origins.
What does your first collection for the brand look like?
My debut is called Flutter & Wow and the collection is based on hearts. The line features pieces made from sterling silver and gold, embellished with garnets and diamonds. I worked around the idea of a heart having a number of facets, like a diamond, so the result is a 3D-cage shape. I was very much inspired by architecture.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to stay true to the brand's DNA while still keeping it fresh with a London edge. In the future I will be adding more pieces that are larger and more high-impact. In August we're launching a men's line using materials such as steel, carbon fibre and rubber. A charm collection and more watches will follow. I'm too busy to go back to my own line, so I'm giving Links my all.