“Jewelry tells your story. It is the ultimate form of self-expression. When you take your clothes off at the end of the day, these pieces remain on your body. They still speak for you. I think what a woman chooses to put on her skin strongly represents who she is and who she wants to be.”
Michelle Campbell, designer of the eponymous Michelle Campbell line of jewelry, firmly believes in the power of adornment. Each item in a woman’s gilded arsenal, be it a ring or a necklace or a pair of earrings, comes charged with various energies. “Jewelry can represent a connection to your past–an heirloom, a gift from an ex-love, a family member–or simply something you’ve invested in for yourself.” As a designer, Campbell creates pieces informed by each of these perspectives. Her affinity for jewelry was first sparked by an inherited collection of cherished pieces from her late grandmother. She has also, over the years, been gifted sparkling articles from loved ones. But what is most important to Campbell remains the feeling a woman derives from buying a piece of jewelry for herself–no waiting around required.
The collection’s designs reflect this sense of female empowerment. The shapes are strong and unyielding. Her materials substantial. Call it modern armor for a modern woman. Traces of fem–pearls, diamonds, a soft curve of gold–are always subverted by a design element before things slide into the too-familiar traps of girlishness. Over the years, the Campbell aesthetic has evolved in degrees, moving from the unapologetically geometric lines to ones with a touch more softness to them. “The Campbell Girl has grown up with me,” Campbell remarks. “I was in my mid-twenties when the brand began. In becoming more comfortable with my personal style over the years, I have begun to experiment, becoming a bit more feminine as time went on. I think the pieces in the collection reflect that shift.”
Though Campbell’s designs certainly reflect her interior ideas, she is always looking outward for inspiration, be it in the history books she pours over or the globe she trots. A frequent international traveler who counts New York City and Los Angeles homes in equal measure, Campbell has her eye out for unique elements that can inform her future designs in unexpected ways. “The best idea can come from a long walk in the city or a great sculpture at Storm King. Inspiration can be found everywhere.”
Michelle Campbell’s jewelry continues to work its way into the glossy pages of international magazines and onto the bodies of some of fashion and entertainment’s most influential figures. Vogue, Elle, Bazaar. Karlie Kloss, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé. Campbell’s pieces are seemingly everywhere, and on seemingly everyone. And, as she pushes her work further into the realm of fine jewelry, her pieces are sure to appeal, increasingly so, to an ever-discerning type of woman. Latest Revival sat down to talk to Campbell about investing in ultra-special pieces, the inspiration found in a da Vinci sketch, and the way she thinks women should feel when they walk into the world each day.
Where did you pull inspiration from for this latest collection of fine jewelry?
This collection is inspired by the galaxy, the random celestial vastness of it all. The stones are set in a random patterns mimicking the night sky. The lines are rounded and curved with thick talons to stay true to the shapes I tend to favor.
What materials and shapes are you most interested in right now?
Yellow gold (always my go-to), white diamonds, and really sculptural curves and ellipses that integrate into the piece’s movement. I love the simplicity of yellow gold and white stones–it’s just so classic and feminine.
Who is the Campbell Girl today?
The Campbell Girl comes from all over. She wants something clean and easy that is interesting. I think she is growing into a very knowledgeable shopper and wants to invest in special pieces, which is why I have started making fine jewelry. As she evolves, she can invest in value pieces.
I’ve read you’re an avid fan of Medieval and Renaissance eras. Does your love of history inform the pieces that you make?
I think my love of history informs everything I do, see, and touch. Having such an affinity for the past, and knowing and telling these stories, makes me want to consciously do that in my life. I want to create significant art with a story to match. I don’t think I have directly been influenced by Medieval jewelry, but Renaissance art and ideals have most definitely influenced me. Shields, da Vinci’s sketches, stained glass patterns, castle architecture–these have all weighed heavily on me and will continue to do so.
Traveling back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, do you think there is a difference between each’s respective style aesthetic?
Yes, but I think the gap is closing. Today, I see more of each city influencing the other. The LA girl tends to react more to the comfort of her pieces, the ease of wear. She likes a piece she can wear all the time and not remove, adding her own discoveries and touches. While a NY woman appreciates the day-to-night piece, she will take more risks with statement pieces and bold shapes and sizes. She likes a bit more drama. I know this sounds redundant, but I see it in the buying patterns every time. I think NYC as a whole is more aggressive–people need to stand out to make an impression, succeed, survive. I think LA is a place where people have the luxury to take their time, spend more time exploring themselves, automatically lending to a more comfortable style.
As a jewelry wearer yourself, do you change pieces according to where you are in the world?
I tend to wear bolder pieces when I travel–large earrings and necklace layering is a default when on vacation. In my day-to-day life, I just want simplicity, but when I am away I can take more time to style myself and experiment. When I am in Europe for work, I go clean and simple and mix in one statement piece. I wear more subtle stones and cleaner lines in those countries. I love acquiring and exploring local design everywhere, it always gives me a fresh perspective.
How do you want a woman to feel when she steps into the world wearing a piece of your jewelry?