What lovely, sparkling eyes you have. And the cutest little jewel button nose. And that mouth looks oddly familiar… Akiko Shinzato makes jewelry that gets you to think. She attended Central St. Martin’s, graduating with a BA in Jewelry Design. She has created a range of jewelry pieces, ranging from wearable to extravagant. Her new collection, Another Skin, focuses on the lengths people will go to shed their identity and attain what they consider ideal beauty.
“Clown” was created in collaboration with Swarovski and Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty, and indeed, the piece wouldn’t have felt out of place in a McQueen show. Made of white leather and constructed like a surgical head wrap, Swarovski crystals embellish the piece, and a sinister, jewel encrusted pair of smiling red lips takes the place of one’s own mouth. Another notable creation is “Rainy Day”, which is a large headpiece made out of broken umbrella and bubble wrap. Though constructed from such raw materials, the piece looks delicate, reminiscent of a spider web in its intricacy.
Adding to her non-classical repertoire is a type of garter meant to be worn to alter clothes, such as holding up a sleeve or joining the front of a top together, and a necklace that appears to be a cut piece of an ornate picture frame hung on a cord.
We spoke to Shinzato about her designs and her new collection, Another Skin:
Elizabeth Patterson: You work outside the classic roles of jewelry, even designing headpieces and things meant to be worn to adapt clothing. Why go this non-traditional route?
Akiko Shinzato: My jewellery practice is to push the boundaries of conventional jewellery. I believe that nothing exciting would be produced without trying something new. Therefore, I always try to explore the possibility of what jewellery could be.
EP: Touching on the last question, you’ve created pieces some would consider restrictive or cumbersome. What kind of response are you hoping to get with your work?
AS: For my statement jewellery, I focus more on the total look on the body rather than the comfortability for the wearer since I consider them as art work. I prefer my works in editorial circumstances or in the gallery. I would like my pieces to make people think.
EP: Your most recent collection, Another Skin, you divided into two series: Wearing Makeup and Putting On Someone’s Identity. Do you feel that people attempt to do this already via other forms of facial alteration (makeup, piercings, tattoos, etc)?
AS: Yes, that is a part of my inspiration, too. By putting on makeup, people try to enhance one’s facial features or sometimes conceal them completely with over-makeup. Also, with cosmetic surgery people attempt to achieve their ideal beauty that can be seen in celebrity and etc.
EP: You stated that Another Skin emerged out of a response to the social media awareness everyone now has of their appearance. Do you use social media, and do you consider yourself affected by this phenomenon?
AS: Yes, I use social media such as Facebook and also consider myself affected by that. I do not want people to see photos of me looking bad. I sometimes remove my tag my friends added, haha.
EP: Do you think this collection will help or hinder those with low self-esteem who seek confidence through makeup and positive responses on social media?
AS: Although I do not think that people wear the pieces in a daily life, I think Another Skin would help them in a way that it can at least hide facial parts you do not have confidence with and disguise you.