Pamela Love doesn’t just make jewelry, she manufacturers badassedness. But you knew that already: Her edgy, tribal-inspired designs have shown up in countless editorial spreads, dozens of runway shows, and even around Alexander Skarsgård’s neck on True Blood. So what’s Love cooking up this season? We talked to her while she was preparing for a studio visit from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is considering her for this year's CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. (There was lots of shuffling on the other end of the line, as well as occasional interjections like, “Put that over there,” or “We need more of those bone rings!”) We also secured an exclusive video of Love crafting her forthcoming collection — nearly two-and-a-half minutes of flashing pliers, dangling skull pendants, and Love’s omnipresent nest of dark hair.
Do you pay attention to trends in jewelry?
I try not to pay attention to trends, plus I’m really bad at noticing them. But of course it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on, just so you know you’re not doing the same thing as someone else. Trends are unavoidable, and sometimes you help create them, which is great.
So, based on your halfhearted trend-spotting, what have you noticed is big for this coming season?
I’m seeing a lot of eighties punk crystals and pyramid studs — that super-British punk thing with Swarovski crystals and rhinestones and glam.
We’ve lost count of all the celebrities who wear your stuff. Is there anyone who hasn’t worn your jewelry but you wish they would?
Neil Young, because he’s my hero! I don’t know what I’d want him to wear — anything he picks out. He’s Neil Young, you can’t tell him what to do.
Some of your designs could double as weapons. Have you ever heard of someone hurting themselves or someone else with a piece of your jewelry?
No, but I do know that some people have had trouble with airport security while wearing it. Sometimes I use my bracelets to open boxes. I’d like to think that if someone needed to use my jewelry to protect themselves, they could. But only if they really needed to! I like to think of myself and my jewelry as pretty peaceful.
How do you feel about people knocking off your jewelry?
It depends on the piece. Jewelry is a really traditional thing, so it’s not like anyone's reinventing the wheel or anything. If I see something copied because it’s become a trend, then that’s cool — imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know?
You’ve done a lot of collaborations, but they’ve all been small in scale. Have you ever thought about doing a lower-priced line for a really big retailer?
Yeah, we’ve definitely talked about doing a lower-price-point line, but it has to be the right project. I like to keep things local, if possible, and have a really strong connection to the people who are working to create the pieces, and for them to have a strong connection to the jewelry. So if it’s a large project with a big retailer, it would have to have that somehow.
How do you choose what jewelry to wear every day?
I never change my jewelry. Sometimes I add to it, but I’ve been wearing the same jewelry for the past couple of years. I shower in it and sleep in it and never take it off. I wear my bird-skull necklace every day, and on my left hand I wear my gold double serpent ring, an obsidian arrowhead on my middle finger, an antique ring, and then a pinky ring that my father gave me. And then on my right hand, I wear my gold talon ring, a turquoise ring from New Mexico, an antique snake ring that my father gave me, a thumb ring that I got in New Mexico, and my talon bracelet.
What can we expect from your spring 2011 collection?
This season, I felt a really strong connection to this idea of jewelry as a symbol of protection. I’ve been interested in that since the beginning, but lately I’ve been referencing traditional Indian and African jewelry that are meant to protect the person who’s wearing it. I’ve also been really interested in alchemy, and using the chemical symbols for earth, wind, water, and fire, as well as lunar cycles, which play a role in the study of alchemy. We're [also] using a lot of new materials, like resin and wood and leather in addition to metal.
Love presents her Spring 2011 collection on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. at Milk Studios.
Video credit: Kanon Organic Vodka