Combining fine metals, glittering gemstone embellishments and specialized hand-carving techniques, Imogen excels at creating beyond bold statement pieces. We caught up with her just as she launched her new collection in North America at the Wardrobe Apparel boutique and got the scoop on what inspires her, what she's working on now and what she loves most about living in London.
Tell us about your sources of inspiration for the Fine Collection.
The Fine Collection is very derivative of my existing Jurassic fashion collection, but I chose key elements — like gemstones, for instance — and incorporated them in a finer size and design. I like to play on the notion of the golden nugget, as it's a concept that translates well to my clients. I also opted to use as little metal around the stone as possible, as I'm not really into claws or traditional gemstone settings. Sometimes I'll even set a gemstone upside down.
What made you decide to launch the Fine Collection in North America at the Wardrobe Apparel boutique?
Brian Macinnes, the co-founder of Wardrobe Apparel, spotted me at London Fashion Week two years ago. He and his partner, Alexandra Thompson, checked out my collection and placed an order, and over time we became good friends. So it made sense to partner with them and travel to Vancouver for the Fine Collection's North American launch, which is carried in the boutique and online. The collection features rings, bracelets, body chains and necklaces made by specialized hand-carving techniques.
The materials you use are such a distinctive component of your jewelry line. Tell us more about where you source your metals and gemstones.
All of the metals we use are recycled and reused. The gemstones are sourced from a reputable supplier in London who gets most of his stones from India. For diamonds, I work with a certified diamond dealer in Antwerp to ensure we only purchase diamonds certified by the Gemological Institute of America, never blood diamonds. I'm very aware of where our gemstones come from and the process is carefully controlled.
Tell us about your experience working with Made UK, a brand that produces fair-trade jewelry, on a sustainable collection a few years ago.
My visit to Made's workshop in Kenya was such an eye opener. I had never been to a country in the developing world prior to that trip. Their workshop in Nairobi actually backs onto Kibera, the largest slum in the country, which is where many of Made's workers live. It really stuck out to me how the workers were so proud of where they live and what they make of life. Made is an amazing company: They support their employees through education and encourage their entrepreneurial spirit, give them a fair wage and health care. I'm hoping to return to Nairobi this year and am excited to be launching another collection with Made next spring too!
What's next for you?
I feel like I will continue to produce fashion collections because there is a strong demand for that. I am also starting to use porcelain as a material within the Fine Collection. Working with porcelain draws on my background in sculpture and I love the challenge of working with a new material. It's always important not to change your style too much, but at the same time keep things fresh and exciting, so we'll be launching the porcelain collection in the next month.
What do you love most about London?
The multiculturalism and vibrancy. You can literally be whoever you want to be, wear whatever you want to wear ... anything goes. The city embraces everything, whether it's gender, politics or fashion. There's so much freedom of speech; you aren't judged the same way you would be in other places.
The number-one piece of advice you would give someone visiting your city?
You have to try and experience a canal boat in East London. It will take you about a day to do, but you can actually travel from Broadway Market in East London all the way to Little Venice in West London by boat since the canals connect up. I think the canal system is what makes London so unique.
Describe your perfect Saturday in your city.
I would start the day at Monmouth Coffee. It serves such good coffee and it's where a lot of the other shops get their beans. After that, I would head to Borough Market to buy some fresh bread, cheese and wine ... and, of course, try all the samples. Then I would go for a stroll along the river, cross the Millennium Bridge and pay a visit to the Tate Modern, and then head up into Covent Garden. There's a private club in the Garden called The Hospital Club where they do an all-day brunch. They really support young creatives and artists and often have live music, plus they have a rooftop terrace in the summer. To finish off the day, I would head to the Dalston district in Hackney in the evening and visit one of the many rooftop bars.
The place that feels like home (although it isn't)?
Cornwall. I studied there for a year, and as kids we would spend our family holidays there. I have friends in Cornwall and very, very fond memories of the place. So I would say that's my other home.
What is one place that you're still dying to visit?
New Zealand. Some of my relatives live there, so I want to meet that side of my family. And of course I would love to explore the countryside. It's incredibly beautiful.