THE HAND GAME: WIN WITH A STATEMENT HANDPIECE

[dropcap letter=”F”]inger bracelets, hand jewelry, hand harnesses – whatever your favorite sartorialist labels them, the hand charm is all you need to win the style game this summer.

 

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[photo courtesy of Guru Jagat | @RamaInstitute]

We’ve all gone through the torment of buying stacks of gold bracelets come only to find that after a night of too much prancing around, they’ve all gone the way of our bobby pins – M.I.A. There’s no way these intricately woven beauties are vanishing, not even on your most adventurous of nights. Just try to steer clear of the hardcore-bro high fives.

These architectural jewels are for the more opulent style maven looking to step outside the routinely-layered bracelets & oversized watch style has been, in which – let’s face it – is far too poised for the bohemian summer you’re trying to embark on.

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If no one is giving your gaudy manicure its rightful look over , strapping on a three diamond finger bracelet just might do the trick. Whether you’re pairing them with a bathing suit, dabbing the tedious work suit with a little bling or stepping out in billowy evening dress, the delicate flair these hand-cessories (woah, we just created a street term) are your next level hand toppers.

Although they inspire some serious Bollywood swirling, we aren’t claiming they will suddenly turn you into a dance floor maverick – you have vodka for that, but they just might make your the rhythmless clap-side-to-side much more enchanting.

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Cleo Handpiece

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Solar Handpiece  

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Raquel Evil Eye Hand Chain

 

 

 

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Rose Gold-Plated Finger Bracelet 

 

 

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Summa 4 Finger Ring

 

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Wonder Child Gold Handpiece

 

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Le Revolution Bracelet

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 The Thin Spike Handpiece

 

 

 

MORE THAN AN ADORNMENT: MINT COLLECTION

A familial pastime and a basket full of neglected gold watches – ones that would only feel appropriate on the set of Miami Vice – are the inspiration behind the latest pieces in Mint Collection. Jacqueline Schneider, a public relations entrepreneur with an obsession for mint green, mixed her fervor for DIY with the challenge of thrift store transformations, and decided to add jewelry designer to her resume.

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The collection has an emphasis on functionality and showcases one-of-a-kind statement pieces that carry some history–using everything from shoe clips to cuff links, the items are made for those who enjoy form and purpose, with a dose of nostalgia. 

Mint Collection Tony Montana Necklace

Mint Collection Deco Earrings

Mint Collection Pyramid Ring Series

You can find Mint Collection online, here, and at Tried & True on Fairfax.

MELODY EHSANI X JEREMY SCOTT

Melody Ehsani, worn by the likes of Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, and Amber Rose, has teamed up with the out there and in-your-face designer, Jeremy Scott. The collection, released just a couple of days ago, delivers an array of necklaces, rings, and earrings, all in a classic gold tone. In addition, each piece is plated with either “Jeremy” spelled out in Arabic or an M16 rifle. Perfect for anyone who wants to feel like they just stepped out of M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” music video.

Get yours online or at the Melody Ehsani store located on 424 1/2 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA.

INSIDE: VERAMEAT

 

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Vampire fangs and spinal bones and two-headed bunnies and disembodied hands and weird little dinosaurs….

This is the ambient paraphernalia of VERAMEATs bizarre dream world (and the stuff nightmares induced by falling-asleep to Little Nemo are made of).

VERAMEAT started in NYC when designer Vera Balyura (an ex-model originally from the Ukraine) started making strange little charms for herself. Shortly thereafter, she took her pieces out on the flea-market circuit before finally setting up shop in the East Village. Hand-crafted from recycled silver and gold brass, the sculptural pieces never tarnish and fall in that price point sweet-spot of $50 – $300.

Last month, Vera & co brought the collection of fine contemporary heirlooms to a neat little storefront across the street from Chin Chin on Beverly Hills Boulevard. We dropped into the new boutique this past Saturday to snap some photos and snag some flair, spending the better part of an hour ogling the whimsical displays of delicate metal creatures dangling from creepy objects.

Because we grew up on Pokemon and can’t help but want to catch them all.

 

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VERAMEAT BEVERLY HILLS STORE
189  S Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills CA 90212
310-288-0050
Open : Monday-Sunday 11am-7pm

INTERVIEW: FALLING WHISTLES

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Chances are you’re already acquainted with Falling Whistles. The LA brand’s subtle yet curious pendants are natural conversation starters. Come across one elegantly dropped from a friend’s neck, and you instinctively sense something emblematic. You can’t help but be like, dude, what’s that whistle for?

And so maybe you already know—the whistle is part of a campaign for peace in the Great Lakes Region in Congo, a part of Africa devastated by decades of political instability, decentralized violence, and most importantly, a seemingly endless, terribly deadly war.

Falling Whistles is an awareness campaign, a political activist group, and a company that invests its proceeds in local businesses and rehabilitation in Congo. Uniquely, it’s a cause-connected brand with a forward-thinking aesthetic and a fashion-world appeal; the modernist black-and-white look of it never touches of granola, and we recently attended a party for the launch of FW’s new “5 Boys” line at uber-cool menswear shop Confederacy.

Okay, but without getting too wrapped up in the style-points earned from sleek, English-made whistle pendants and next-level graphic design, we were curious about the less-glamorous aspects of launching this movement and the tangible implications of its success. So we turned to founder Sean Carrasso to get some more detailed insight into what creating positive change really entails. Keep reading to find out how Sean’s back-packing trip turned into an e-mail-gone-viral turned into hitch-hiking across the country and finally, an organization with traction and a whole lot of momentum. 

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Can you tell me about how all of this started, the inspiration behind the whistles and your back-story? 

Originally I was just backpacking.  Going out to get lost.  We found a military encampment in Congo where kids were being beaten for war-crimes and freaked out.  One boy told us that the kids too small to carry a gun had been sent to the front lines of war, armed with only a whistle.  We ended up getting the kids pulled out and I went home and wrote a small journal entry called Falling Whistles.  That was the beginning.  The journal was forwarded around the world and I woke up to hundreds of emails asking, why is this happening, what’s going on?  So we started asking those same questions of anyone who would talk to us—spies, victims, warlords, anyone.

When I got home I was just screaming at people—kids are dying! This is real!  One of my best friends was letting me crash on his couch, and gave me an old vintage whistle he bought on eBay as a gift.  Everywhere I went people would ask about the whistle and I got to tell them what was happening in Congo.  It was all really organic.  We started thinking about the power of the symbol, and the idea of being a “whistle blower.”  We started putting them on people’s necks and saying “Make their weapon your voice and be a whistle-blower for peace.”  Word spread pretty quickly, and soon we were building a coalition for peace in Congo out of our garage in Venice.

 

I’ve heard that the founders of Falling Whistles had sort of high-end fashion/design/marketing/tech jobs, and then decided to leave those careers and channel their skills into creating this campaign. Can you tell me more about how you/they came to that decision? 

Ha.  If only that were true.  After we were selling whistles out of our pockets we got to about $150 and knew we wanted to reach the whole world.  Thinking about it now, I just want to laugh.  But our CEO David Lewis took that money and started hitchhiking across the country.  He hitchhiked from Austin TX to New York City stopping in every city along the way and telling people about our world’s deadliest war.  He inspired three college students who rode their bikes across the country and inspired more students.  So we pulled desks out of dumpsters, put them in our garage and went to work with fists to the sky.  That was when we started meeting the pros.  The first was Monique who is a world class lawyer, then Mario our art director, Sinclair who manages the brand, and Joey who does digital marketing.  We basically gave them all the same pitch—look, do you want to keep fueling the status quo or do you want to change the game?  I remember when I met Mario, our art director, in NY.  He was working for a big ad firm out there selling whatever was selling at the moment.  We were on a cross country tour in a blacked-out RV and I asked him if he wanted to jump on the pirate ship.  The next morning he showed up at the RV with two duffle bags in hand.  We lived together for the next year getting the State Department to appoint a Special Advisor to Congo.

 

Where did the photographs of the war on your website come from?

Those shots are from Dan Johnson and Abby Ross.  Both are incredible.  On Dan’s first trip to Congo he got deep into the situation and was ultimately expelled from the country.  That’s where you see a lot of the military shots.  Abby is a very different character.  She has a way of making human beings feel so comfortable around her.  And you can see that in the shots of our partners and the women and children they work with.  Despite living inside the deadliest place on Earth, they are beautiful, and they live with a great deal of courage.  Abby really captures that with her photography.

 

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You started with the rehabilitation of street kids and former child soldiers.  How was it setting up an infrastructure to allow for this? How were the kids rehabilitated, and what happened to them next?

We started our work in Congo with a pretty simple idea – all change is local and all local change begins with a visionary.  So we were looking for local leaders with a lot of energy, big ideas and the courage to see them through.  That’s when we met Christine who was 26 and working with about 70 kids.  She had no training, but it was clear that she was really talented.  She had found some of the most vulnerable kids in the region – beaten, abducted, abused, you name it.  But when they were all together with Christine it was like they were any other kid—laughing, break dancing, rapping, playing sports.  We just asked, what do you want to do?  She said she wanted over 300 kids and a center for them to be safe, learn job skills, and have outlets for their creativity.   She needed about $3000 a month.  We didn’t have any money, but we committed on the spot.  A week later we were back in LA selling whistles on the Venice boardwalk.  In over 3 years we haven’t missed a month.

 

How has the stiuation in Congo changed over the past several years? 

The situation has changed significantly in the last few years.  There are a lot of reasons, but mostly it comes down to unity and mobilization.  Within the country, Congolese people are protesting, marching, communicating across ethnic boundaries, and connecting with the outside world.  The outside world is doing the same.  For years the “coalition” for Congo was fractured, angry and splintered.  I think we’ve all woken up to the fact that we are stronger together.

 

What did it take to get involved on a political level, with other organizations in Congo?

Man, if only there were videos of our first moves in DC.  When Dave was hitchhiking, he borrowed a suit and snuck his way into a meeting with the Undersecretary for African Affairs, Johnny Carson.  Our first time in the White House we only had one suit between us, so we split it.  I wore the jacket with jeans and he wore the slacks.  We were young and didn’t know what we were doing, so we spent the first year in D.C. doing nothing but asking questions.  We came in with no position, no policy prescriptions, no opinions.  Just questions.  We made a lot of friends, connected a lot of dots, and were then able to create solutions that unified people, policy and the need for peace.

 

Can you tell us a bit more about the appointment of a U.S. Special Advisor for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo? What does this advisor do?

I’m really glad you asked this.  Because it’s so important.  Congo is surrounded by 9 countries, and it is among the most resource rich countries in the world.  Estimates put it around $24 trillion.  And that’s just what’s in the ground.  So the war is not country specific—it is regional and global.  Everyone on the ground was saying that the U.S. strategy for Congo was disconnected from the strategy for Rwanda and that was disconnected from Uganda and Central African Republic and on and on and on.  When we asked the State Department why their ambassadors weren’t coordinating together, they told us they were having monthly Skype calls.  Monthly Skype calls?!  Are you kidding me?  So the U.S. Special Advisor coordinates across the region.

 

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Where do the proceeds from sales of Falling Whistles go? Aside from raising awareness, how does the purchase of a necklace make a difference? Can you tell us a bit more about the eight Congolese visionaries Falling Whistles has invested in?

We’re essentially doing two major things.  First, we are building a global coalition for peace in Congo.  A network of people who want to see an end to the deadliest war of our time.  This is what the team in LA is largely focused on.  Second, we are investing in Congolese visionaries.  These are Congolese people with big ideas for how to change their country.  So for example, we have invested in Sekombi, who’s 29 and has built the fastest growing radio station in Eastern Congo.  It’s like a lo-fi 80’s version of MTV Congo.  Art, music, sex, politics, fashion, war, revolution, culture.  So now when you travel across the east you see young people with a radio to their ear and if you ask who they’re listening to they smile and say “Mutaani! Mutaani!”  We invested in Blaise who built a sustainable business that treated 330,000 people for malaria.  Amani who built a hair training school for women.  Justine who mobilizes women to demand justice surrounding rape.  That list goes on, and its one our team is really proud of.

 

How have the military funding cuts from Western Governments impacted the war? 

They’ve been really significant.  In the end, the person holding the purse strings holds a lot of the power.  Right now the United States government gives a great deal of aid money to Rwanda.  And we have proof, through two separate UN reports, that Rwanda is funding and commanding a rebel army in Congo named M23.  The funding cuts have been a great start, but its time the U.S. support sanctions for Rwandan officials commanding M23.  I don’t think Americans want their tax money fueling rebels, or even coming anywhere close.
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What’s next for the Falling Whistles campaign, what are your immediate goals? 

We just launched a new collection of smaller whistles, the 5 Boys Collection.  They’re symbolic of this moment when we met five boys in a military encampment who had been forced to fight against one another in opposing rebel armies.  I asked, does that make you enemies?  One boy looked at the other and kissed him, saying words I’ll never forget: “We are only boys, how can we be enemies?”  So that’s the message of the collection.  Half the world is under thirty and we’re more connected than we have ever been.  How can we be enemies?  In the short term, I want to get those whistles out to the public.  The message is powerful and the pieces are beautiful; everyone should have one.