Bling it on: Eddie Borgo brings his unique jewellery designs to the city

Divia Harilela

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 October, 2013, 7:13pm

It's no secret that Eddie Borgo is the industry's hottest jewellery designer right now.

Although he launched his eponymous collection in 2009, his punk-inspired designs have earned him countless accolades including the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award for accessory design and the Tiffany & Co development grant. A favourite with fashion's cool kids, his fans include editors and celebrities, including style icon Kate Lanphear, Chloë Sevigny and Vanessa Traina.

While he is already well known in the West, Borgo now has his sights on Hong Kong, where he is launching an exclusive collection with Lane Crawford on October 9 and 10. Although the line will feature several of his most popular styles, ranging from his signature cone bracelet to the five-finger ring, they will now be available with a luxurious twist.

"This is the first time we are working with 18-carat gold," reveals Borgo, during his recent spring-summer 2014 presentation in Paris.

"We took 10 of our most iconic pieces and are recreating them in gold exclusively for Lane Crawford. The finishings are definitely more delicate and there will only be 10 or fewer pieces of each style. Once the tenth piece is sold we will destroy the mold so everything is really exclusive," says the 35-year-old.

Moving into fine jewellery was a risk for Borgo who originally rose to fame thanks to his edgy costume pieces. A self-trained designer, he started out making one-off pieces for well-known stylists in New York and was soon collaborating with fashion designers like Phillip Lim.

He took a big risk when he launched his label during the financial crisis, but retailers immediately gravitated to his accessible price point and unique look, which blends a cool, urban style typified by downtown New York with an elegant uptown aesthetic.

"I wanted to take highly decorative shapes and ideas and strip them down to their geometric foundation. By buying into geometry people are investing in classic shapes that will always be in style and that they will always wear," he says.

Soon everyone was clamouring for his statement pieces which featured punk-inspired cone bracelets and chunky necklaces made from unconventional materials such as rubber, ebony and Lucite.

"My designs started off very minimal and architectural because I'm learning as I go along. Initially, it was easiest to carve minimal shapes, but now, to our demise, other people have referenced those silhouettes. This has served as a catalyst to think about how to take our language and push it further.

"Now we have lots of texture, and are still using the same language but in a more decorative way. Thinking outside of the box is important which is why we are doing this collaboration," he says.

In addition to the gold pieces and the latest autumn-winter collection, local fashionistas will also have the chance to view and buy Borgo's men's collection for the first time.

Originally created in 2009, the line started off with a few pieces inspired by the women's designs. Today it has morphed into a full-fledged collection consisting of collar tips, tie clips, cufflinks, wallet chains and even lighter cases. Many of the designs reference iconic jewellery worn by rock'n'roll personalities from the 1960s.

"I made the mistake of not considering men's as a complete collection from the beginning. What would happen is we used women's as inspiration and translated it to men's by adjusting sizes and widths," says Borgo.

"Today it has its own look, although both lines share the same spirit of New York City and rock'n'roll. Men's is very masculine yet simple, with classic pieces you wear every day, while the women's collection has a romanticism and is very fashion focused. I enjoy the detail and engineering of the women's, but interestingly we have a following of women who will only buy our men's styles," he says.

And while jewellery remains his first passion, Borgo has started experimenting with other artistic mediums. Earlier this year he launched a series of limited-edition, luxurious python jewellery boxes which are handcrafted in Italy (a selection will also be available for order at Lane Crawford). A collection of leather goods is also on the cards.

"I am very thoughtful in terms of brand growth, but I see how our aesthetic is transcending outside jewellery. My mentor, [Chanel chief executive] Maureen Chiquet, introduced us to a leather goods manufacturer in Milan, so I'm thinking about leather goods, bags etc. I can see the brand becoming an accessories company instead of a jewellery company," he says.