GET TO KNOW: Jewelry Designer and CFDA Member Simon Alcantara
Simon Alcantara is a jewelry designer, former ballet dancer, native New Yorker, proud member of the CFDA and one of my absolute favorite people on twitter! We met over a tweet about the Shaft theme song and have been twitter bff’s ever since! The more I learn about Simon the more I am shocked at how humble he is in regards to his many achievements. Not only did he receive a big break from Patricia Field who first sold his budding jewelry line he also worked with Oscar de La Renta creating runway jewelry and he designed collections for Balmain Haute Couture, that is only to name a few of the accomplishments by the talented Mr. Alcantara. In this interview I asked Simon about his start in the fashion industry, challenges he might have faced and what inspires him to make such beautiful pieces. Of course I kept this interview “Fashionisgreat” while tapping into his fun side by asking about his perfect day in NYC, his ideal imaginary dinner party and what food he might be if he were one. Simon Alcantara is as fun and inspiring as his designs are well crafted and breath taking. To enjoy the full interview simply scroll down and to know what it is to enjoy Simon Alcantara himself follow him on twitter @SIMONALCANTARA and on his Tumblr. For more information on his jewelry check out SimonAlcantara.com Thank you Simon for this awesome interview Fashionisgreat.com loves you!!
FG: How did you get your start?
SA: I started designing jewelry as a hobby as a teenager while I was on scholarship at a NYC ballet school and I became obsessed with taking apart vintage crystal necklaces and making earrings and hair pieces for the ballerinas to wear. Later when I was dancing professionally I became injured and was on crutches for several months and started playing around with jewelry in order to keep my self busy. A friend wore something to a party, Pat Field asked about it later that turned into an appointment with their buyer. I designed a collection with a friend and it sold out in a few days! That led to more orders and more stores. A few years later I met Oscar de La Renta and I created a collection for his fall 2000 runway show and it was a huge success. He also invited me to design jewelry collections for his Balmain Haute Couture collections and we worked together for about three years. That also led to collaborations with J Mendel. Then in 2002 Bergdorf Goodman launched my name sake collection, so for a while I was designing all four collections! That was not really sustainable for me and by the beginning of 2003 I was concentrating exclusively on my namesake collection. I never went to school for jewelry design.
FG: Where do you look for inspiration when creating a new collection?
SA: Everywhere! I am literally inspired by so many things and anyone who follows my tumblr is getting insight into how my brain works. People inspire me, as well as music, art, fashion, history, literature, philosophy, theology, dance, theatre, films it’s endless. People that know me well say I’m like a little kid seeing something for the first time because I always find beauty everywhere I look and I get so excited by it that my friends just laugh at me, but it usually starts with music. I make a playlist for myself in order to create a certain mood that I am sensing and then I listen to it over and over. Having been a professional dancer when I hear music it translates into images for me and I go from there.
FG: Based on twitter interactions I know you have an affinity for Isaac Hayes and Sade , who are some of your favorite musical artists to listen to while you create a new collection?
SA: The list is endless and very mixed from classical to punk and hip hop. Besides the two mentioned above some of my favorites are:
Patti Smith, Blondie, Stevie Nicks, Anita Baker, Angelique Kidjo, Cesaria Evora, The Noisettes, Juan Luis Guerra, Keren Ann, Francoise Hardy, Grace Jones, Marc Anthony, Johhny Ventura, Bill Withers, Ledisi,,Jil Scott, Niki Minaj, Lila Downs, Keziah Jones, Lamya, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Bach, Chopin and Fela Kuti, to name a few!
FG: Have you experienced any hurdles in your path to success? Can you share how you overcame them if any?
SA: The most significant hurdle that I experienced on my way to success was self doubt. I come from a family that expected me to become a banker, lawyer or a doctor, so when I said I was going to be a dancer and later became a jewelry designer it did not go over very well. I struggled for a bit with the notion that I should be doing something more “significant”. When my family saw me dance on stage for the first time they changed their minds about it and were my biggest supporters and of course when I started working with Oscar who is from Dominican Republic like my parents then they got it. Now they respect and admire me for choosing my own path.
FG: As a native new yorker, what is your favorite way to spend a fun summer day in NYC?
SA: An ideal NYC summer day for me would be Brunch with friends, walk in central park, afternoon tea, early dinner, disco nap and then go dancing until five in the morning.
FG: Imagine you are having a fabulous dinner party and you can invite 5 people alive or dead, who’s coming?!
SA: The Dalai Lama, Robert Maplethorpe, Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel and Andre Leon Talley.
FG: I’d like to close this interview with a little fun, if you had to compare yourself to a food what would it be and why?
SA: I would be a salcocho which is the typical dish of the Domincan Republic. It’s a sort of stew that has different meats, roots, and vegetables. It’s highly nutritious, great for a hangover, if it is made properly you will sweat while you eat it, it tastes better and better after several days and you’ll be talking about how good it was for several days after it’s gone.