Customarily paired with “couture” to indicate the higher spheres of clothing design, we are in this instance going with the Nervo pun and take on “haute” as a swaggier version of “feline hot”. Versace-style fearless and free, flawless yet real, it is the haute woman who serves as a muse par excellence for Beijing-based designer Yulia Arefeva’s HER. fine jewelry collections. Sassy perfectionism, from daytime cappuccinos to after hours canned heat.
Jewelry has been the Arefeva family business for decades and Yulia, aka the next generation, subsequently found herself emerged in the apprenticeship of precious stones and metals from early childhood onwards. Fashion always a passion, the budding jewelry designer attended numerous fashion shows and art showcases where she would explore the pure beauty and creativity the fashion world put on display behind the scenes. In the pursuit of professional photography and with the appreciation for iconic fashion designers, Arefeva set out on a quest for strapping self-expression through the means of art and fashion. HER. fine jewelry was the offspring born from this drive; an allegiance to women included.
“For a number of pieces, I rely on the daily images of Chinese women: Clear lines, wearability, practical yet beautiful things that make each individual stand out in own unique way.” HER. Founder Yulia Arefeva
About Juju and Tszuj
Temper: What’s the HER. juju? Speaking on both a personal and practical level, if you will.
Arefeva: My muse is without the slightest doubt HER. A girl, moving forward in her world. Fearless and free, flawless yet real. I’m constantly inspired by whatever it may be I’ll be watching or doing at that moment. Traveling is also where I get my inspiration from. Sometimes the idea of a new design can hit me unexpectedly. Example: When I designed my favorite piece from the “Reflections of HER.” silver collection, I was in my bed, drifting off to sleep, when I suddenly got a vision of three suspended triangles; all of them shiny and disco-like. I immediately and started sketching away. That is how the design for the Trinity earrings was born [scroll down for pic] which later on led to the entire AW17 silver collection.
Temper: How do you tszuj things up?
Arefeva: I would say… It’s all about perfection, right down to the very final touch-up. China has had a strong influence on my pieces and, for now, China remains my major target market. For some of my creations, I rely on the daily images of Chinese women: Clear lines, wearability, practical yet beautiful things that make each individual stand out in their own unique way. I think about that working woman, an office worker of sorts perhaps, who is busy building her career. Nowadays, women take on millions of things all at once and we always want to look our best, no matter what our background or social status may read. I imagine this woman sitting at her desk, wearing her daily casual formal office getup and i try to think of ways to perfect her look. Or at the very least give her something that will make her feel more beautiful or upbeat.
One of my jewelry pieces recently made it onto the pages of ‘Vogue Brazil’ which has in turn encouraged me to design for women of different cultural and racial backgrounds.
About Ready-To-Wear And Reflections
Temper: Who do you envision wearing your work — on a daily basis?
Arefeva: HER. fine creations are made for the modern, sophisticated woman who want to stand out and simultaneously stay bold, elegant and chic. Every piece is made to be worn on any occasion, at any time. Right now, I’m jotting down new ideas and inspirations for my next collection. All I can let slip for now is that I have fixed my gaze on rings — given my previous collections were mostly about earrings. My plan the for upcoming designs is to make my pieces appealing to women outside of China as well, perhaps European and Russian — as Russia is my home country.
Speaking of stepping outside Chinese borders… One of my jewelry pieces recently made it onto the pages of ‘Vogue Brazil’ which has in turn encouraged me to design for women of different cultural and racial backgrounds!
The Chinese consumer is no longer looking for products that will convey an image of wealth, but is looking for brands to which he or she can relate because they correspond with one’s values.
About Confidence And Confidantes
Temper: Confide in us your views on “The New Made In China” label.
Arefeva: Chinese designers have moved from looking longingly to the European capitals of fashion to establishing themselves as true fashion revolutionaries who now have standing invitations to major fashion events all over the world. They are now emerging as more confident creators in terms of fashionable taste and contribution, both in-and outside of China. Aside from some 30 or more designers based in Beijing, there are dozens of retailers that have helped shape the fashion industry in the city.
In my opinion, the Chinese consumer is no longer looking for products that will convey an image of wealth, but is opting for brands to which he or she can relate because they correspond to one’s values with an exclusive and original vibe to boot. The big brand logo used to possess strong meaning in the consumer mind, but this image is disappearing little by little to make way for a high-end market that is just a tad more sober. This being said, I try to create my pieces in a way that they become of worth to the person who wears them. Made in China or elsewhere in the world, quality and taste are the modish confidantes more and more people put their faith in.
Temper: How confident are you about the scene’s evolution as it’s about to hit puberty?
Arefeva: China is global and diverse at the same time. Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong are amongst China’s leading fashion hubs, as far as I’m concerned. The fashion industry in itself is divided across an array of separate cities, each supporting the fashion industry in its own way with its own particular strengths. It’s definitely opening up and evolving in terms of design variety, appealing to not just local consumers, but slowly pouring into the “global fashion pond”. China has always had something unique to offer and fashion is definitely one of those factors driving forward the nation’s (r)evolution.
China’s fast-growing fashion designer trend offers a comfortable, local alternative for those who have grown tired of being bombarded by glitzy European brand logos for so long.
About Contempo And Contreverso
Temper: Contempo creativity in China can be controversial. How does this new-born cleverness resonate with consumers?
Arefeva: The emergence of contemporary designers in China has much to do with the country’s rapidly changing creative environment and luxury market. The creations of young designers resonate especially with a growing segment of luxury consumers who share the designers’ background — i.e. those born after 1980 or 1990 — and have returned from their overseas education. These consumers have developed sophisticated tastes and gathered extensive luxury shopping experiences during their stay abroad.
Despite their struggles located in and criticism coming from the European fashion world, Chinese designers are making a strong, consistent appearance across runways and boutiques nationwide thanks to their ingenuity and boldness. China’s fast-growing fashion trend offers a comfortable, local alternative to people who have for years on end been bombarded by glitzy European brands.
In the wise words of Arefeva, “Your own imagination is your only limit when it comes to your wardrobe.” Each individual is unique and it all depends on how one likes to play around with their look of the day/week/decade. It’s about creating your own haute mess tszuj.