New York-based jewellery and leather goods brand Lizzie Fortunato has arrived in the UAE, Boutique 1 to be exact and the collection is just as avant-garde and exciting as you would expect. Move over mundane, this new brand is all about fine art and bold creations. Designer Elizabeth Fortunato (EF) and Kathryn Fortunato (KF), her twin sister and brand operator, talk exclusively to Emirates Woman about the fabulous brand and how to wear it…
What is the Lizzie Fortunato collection?
EF: It is designed to be mixed-and-matched and worn with ease. There is no single muse but the collection is instead created for the independent and bold individual, the artist, adventurer, collector and traveller.
How did it all start?
KF: Lizzie is the ‘creative’ behind the brand, and I started Lizzie Fortunato Jewels a bit accidentally while at Duke University, where we were studying economics and English, respectively.
Lizzie would make jewellery as a hobby and we would wear it around campus and girls began to catch-on and ask where we got our pieces. Soon they were buying pieces from our dorm room.
After graduating university, we moved to New York City where Lizzie and I pounded the pavements of Soho and the West Village visiting stores and hoping to meet the buyer so we could show them samples. Our very first store was a great boutique in the West Village, called Albertine. We met the buyer and she accepted some items on consignment that ended up selling out quickly. Once we had one store, it was easier to get more store traction and grow from there.
How did it progress from there?
KF: Well, when we officially launched the line 2008, Lizzie Fortunato was really just a one-man show. Lizzie was doing everything: she designed the jewellery, assembled it herself, contacted the stores, got the orders, packed the product and did all of the shipping. At the time I was working full time on Wall Street so I would help her with invoicing and the finances on nights and weekends.
Since then we’ve experienced substantial growth; we have about eight women who are on our ‘team’ assembling all of the jewellery, and we have a full time production manager who coordinates making the collections.
Why target the Middle East market?
EF: We are very proud that the Middle East has been a key market for us for a while. Autumn/winter 2014 will be our 11th season working with Boutique 1. We find that the Middle East market appreciates inventive and original statement jewellery and so we’re excited to dress women in a completely different part of the world.
What’s your unique selling point?
KF: We pride ourselves on the handmade nature of the product and how each piece is meant to tell a story. Lizzie often refers to the jewellery as Art Objects – when the pieces aren’t being worn they should be displayed on your vanity or hung on your wall.
If any celebrity could wear your brand who would you love it to be?
EF: First Lady Michelle Obama.
KF: Well, recently, Julianne Moore wore one of our pieces, which was a bit of a career highlight. She emailed us the next day to say thank you, very classy.
What are your favourite pieces?
EF: For autumn/winter 2014, I love the Original Dresser necklace. To me this necklace embodies the sleek and minimal trends that are happening right now but still makes a real statement.
KF: I am really excited to wear the Maxime Fringe Chain earrings to some autumn and holiday parties. For these earrings, I would ditch a necklace and just make the focus on these long fringe statement earrings.
We just re-launched our website (lizziefortunato.com) with a much larger emphasis on editorial content (travel guides, profiles on our friends, a more robust blog). Creating the ‘Lizzie Fortunato world’ is very important to us so that our brand is more than just statement accessories but represents a well-lived lifestyle.
Three typical UAE events and three statement jewels to wear to them:
Wedding (as a guest)
Lizzie Fortunato available at Boutique 1