Vanessa Mooney on How to Make a Choker | Nordstrom Fashion Blog

Vanessa Mooney on How to Make a Choker | Nordstrom Fashion Blog


Some things are just too hot to keep in stock. That's been our observation with Vanessa Mooney's jewelry. Since we started carrying this California girl's '90s-inspired creations, we couldn't help but notice how quickly they sell out. Attribute it to the resurgence of the choker necklace or the prevalence of body jewelry on the festival scene. Whatever the reason, Mooney's mesmerizing amulets seem to suit the present moment perfectly, with all its influences.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Mooney about how Jennifer Lopez discovered her, her famous relative, her personal style and why chokers are back in style. Then she showed us how to make a fashionable bauble of our own, since hers can be so hard to come by.

Can we talk about how you conceived your fall collection? It's been selling so well!

For me, L'Age d'Or was about mixing. I like to mix feminine with something that's hard and a bit tougher. That's just who I am. I'm a tough chick but also have a very feminine side to me. So with every collection, I try to do a little bit of that. I like that idea of toughness being there with jewelry, where a girl can put it on and feel a bit badass, like she's wearing something that people will notice.

And this [collection] was really inspired by the age of gold coming back, and seeing girls in '90s street-style pieces mixed with chokers and stuff. The chokers and bolos fit in well with that fall gold collection because you can wear them together or separately. The chokers and bolos are very sexy, and gold adds a more interesting aspect to it, more stylized.

Why do you think chokers are having a moment?

Two summers ago I started to see funky girls wearing them, and I thought, "How cute is that?" So I did a wild collection of neon chokers with charms hanging from them, and they were just so fun. They make your neck and chest look really sexy. They're simple but different, and they kind of have an edge to them. Girls look good in them, and they're flattering. It's wild how big they are right now!

What do you think is the next big accessory?

I think that people are going to want statement earrings. With accessories, if they're going to wear them, girls now want not too much, not where they're wearing a ton, but one or two pieces that are noticeable, that stand out and are interesting. I think that bigger earrings are going to be the next thing. My spring [collection] had some hoops that are different than anything I've seen. And then summer is going to be bigger and colorful and long. I'm excited about spring and summer.

What is something that you're wearing right now that you feel really attached to?

Well, hoops, big, big hoops with things dangling from them. Vintage rings are definitely a thing for me, too. Kind of like these-I don't know if you've seen them-these ID rings, where you can engrave on them, from the Art Deco era. I'm really into those. And these beaded tassel earrings we did; I'm super excited to be wearing them. Those are a statement earring that will work for holiday and then spring.

How did you get into designing jewelry?

I've always been artistic; I painted when I was younger. Anything that I would see, I could duplicate with my hands. And I've always been into vintage. After school I would go to the vintage shops or garage sales in L.A. with my best friend. I was super inspired by the costume jewelry from the '20s or the '40s, and it got me picking pieces at a garage sale or a vintage store and repurposing them into something that I thought was more cool or modern. So I started just messing around with it for myself and my friends.

Also my great-grandfather was one of the Warner brothers, so my mom always had movies in the house. She had a whole closet of VHS tapes that my great-grandfather had made. He was actually a producer of films. So I'd come home from school and watch these fabulous women being super glamorous with all their accessories. And that kind of inspired me too, that kind of got me into vintage.

And how did your professional jeweler career start?

I worked with a stylist that was traveling all over the world with Jennifer Lopez. That introduced me to higher-end fashion. By that time I was creating pieces out of gold vermeil and sterling silver from Bali. One day I showed them to Jennifer Lopez and to Lily Allen, and they fell in love with them. They started wearing them in their videos and asking me to make them for their girlfriends. That was definitely something that made me think, "Oh, maybe I should do this for a living."

Tell me about something you made when you were starting out that you were really proud of.

There was this one piece, it had all of these heart lockets. The piece wasn't beautiful itself, but I took apart the necklace and created a way cooler version of it. I still have that piece hidden away. I love that one!

Vanessa went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market to collect materials for this simple but special necklace. Here's how to make it.

"The first step is to find something you'd love to deconstruct or just some random vintage charms."

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