Because I’m a practitioner of the big, the bold and the beautiful — take that however you will — I give you Clare Hynes, jewellery design for the wicked.
Once upon a leprechaun time, I coincidentally came across the following proverb as I was catching up on Irish culture: Put silk on a goat and it’s still a goat. Barmbrack for fashion thought, is it not? I shamefully admit that Colin Farrell, U2, beer, the word “boycott” (after Captain James Boycott mind you) and Saint Patrick (who by the way was in fact not Irish, but Roman), these five facts and trivia sum up my knowledge of the country.
Nevertheless, English-born, Irish husband-clad and China-based (as multi-functional as a big scarf, indeed) jewellery designer Clare Hynes can probably add a few to my list as she once upon a time worked as a newspaper design editor in that nation’s fair capital of Dublin. The big family move to China in 2012 also sparked a career move and creative exploration from within for Hynes personally, as she decided to clutch the chance and go back to her artistic roots: Bold bijoutery.
Baubles, beads, bangles and baguettes
Graphic design at Nottingham Trent University, magazine design across London, Dublin and Sydney, this curly-blonde fairy traveled perhaps not to the end of the rainbow, but definitely to the outskirts of the planet. Her first magical brush with China happened in her late 20s, some 10 years ago, when Hynes and her now husband trotted around the purest colors of South America and Southeast Asia and she started to collect different beads and stones from different markets around the globe. Inspired by the tentative experience of the materials and sensual experience of the surroundings, Hynes’ newfound hobby of putting together and mashing up bits and pieces — her favorite definitely being a statement necklace — turned into a full-blown full-time passion. Fast forward one decade, and the family’s move to China’s northern city of Changchun not only witnessed the quartet exploring the outskirts of freezing northern China, but also Hynes imagination.
Since moving to China, the designer’s style definitely, and naturally, evolved. The opportunity to work with the different materials up for grabs and the different (sometimes somewhat smoggy) surroundings provide ample inspiration — aside from the usual suspects such as (Western) fashion magazines and blogs to keep in the running with what is trending/catwalking at the moment. Hynes’ pieces combine the seasonal Western fashion trends with Asian influences, as for example shining through in her collections on display in this post. Concentrating on vivacious colors and using a concoction of Chinese threads (normally used to create the traditional Chinese knot decorations) and semi-precious stones, fresh-water pearls (hello there Beijing pearl market) and crystals, it’s fusion to the fullest extent. Aye.
Tassels, the sign of opulence flowing from the Lian Earrings by Clare Hynes Jewellery.
Hold me, thrill me, dress me, kill me
Like this title, “bold” is the word in Hynes’ atelier. “Trend-led statement jewellery with a touch of luxury,” she says of her designs. Her ideal customer to bold up? “The fashion-conscious woman who wants something a bit different and unique to what you find on the high street [or in this case, The Bund/Sanlitun/Fangjia or Baochao etc. hutongs], but not at a ridiculous cost.” With the emerging Chinese fashion market, in all its facets, this type of clientele may also be on the verge of breaking out the closet. Not too long ago, many of the wealthier Chinese would just purchase luxury brands just for the sake of the maxi-sized logo, without actually considering the design or the look. Hynes seconds this idea and adds that today’s trend consumers may opt for something with a more unique appeal and actually take into well-woven consideration its design. This certainly goes for the younger Chinese generations who are now gaining the confidence to come into their own style, “mixing high street with new emerging brands” as Hynes custom-fittedly puts it.
As stated above, the country’s fashion market is finding itself from all angles. Jewel-wise, Hynes has a thing for Beijing fixture Wan Baobao, whose delicate pieces reference Chinese culture and manage to rouse the curiosity of both European and Chinese clients. Vibrant Qingdao-born womenswear designer Zhang Huishan (张卉山) — SamCam wore this guy to one State Banquet or another — is one of Hynes personal favorites. She thinks Zhang is doing a “fantastic job of combining Chinese skilled craftsmanship and beautiful designs which are selling globally alongside huge name brands.” Of course, any designer’s inspiration doesn’t begin or end with what’s on offer today, history also serves as a pot of galvanizing gold. Think “tassels”, which this createuse uses in various designs and are in fact a popular symbol of opulence thought to have originated in the Eastern Dragon — or Egypt. Let’s abandon the historical discussion for now. The imperial courtiers of yore would have them attached to their robes and noble women attached them to their teensy shoes to draw attention to their sex-symbol teensy feet. Exploring China, Hynes is indeed.
All in all, methinks it’s fair to say that packing up your sowing box and gemstones to take them halfway across the world together with husband and kids is never an easy thing to do, yet one thing’s for sure: Hynes never choked. She sparkles.
The good fashion fairy says:
“Never boycott the big stuff; just tone down the rest — stating the obvious.”
All photos: Clare Hynes Design.