Five Minutes with Stephen Webster
British jewelry designer Stephen Webster is known around the world for his thought provoking, glamorous and rock n’ roll inspired fine jewelry. His signature work, such as the current collection “The Seven Deadly Sins”, combines the strong foundations of traditional artisan craftsmanship with an English punk aesthetic. W joined the jeweler as he feted the opening of his Beverly Hills flagship boutique.
How did you decide to become a jeweler?
At 16, I went to art school thinking I wanted be a fashion designer. I remember walking into the room and seeing all girls, sewing machines and a really flamboyant instructor… immediately changing my mind. I still wanted to be in art school, and one day I discovered jewelry making. I immediately loved, and still love, the process of making these precious tiny little items.
People often reference your passions for music in addition to fashion and art. How do these inspirations come together in your work?
Inspiration is a complicated thing. There is no point where I have that “a-ha” moment. It usually starts with an abstract concept that can be prompted by art, music, fashion and other things. It’s really a lot of visuals cues that I take notes on and send to my staff that are some times turned into a collection. What’s most important is to find how inspiring thoughts can be reflected in jewelry. Jewelry is really an emotional purchase, so each piece needs to have a story.
Why have you chosen LA to be the location of your first US-based flagship?
It was going to be either New York or Los Angeles. I saw the space in Beverly Hills and thought that if I could transform the space the way I envisioned it with the two separate floors connecting into this lofty, artsy place then it would be ideal. When I stood in the space and realized that the windows overlook iconic Beverly Hills over to the Beverly Wilshire and up to Rodeo Drive…. I thought this place could be a real landmark.
Tell us about the store design.
I’ve really struggled in the past when I’ve had to sell my pieces in an environment that doesn’t have my stamp on it. The more stores we do, the more we see an extension outside of the brand. For this particular space, it feels like a creative space. It’s got a hard edge with the concrete floors. The furniture, the textures, the art… with all this here it feels like the collection belongs here.
How will you use the second floor gallery space?
We call it the “No Regrets Lounge” in ode to our menswear collection. It’s just another dimension to our brand. It’s a creative space with a permanent bar fixture where I can curate art and experiences the way I want. I’m lucky to have a lot of friends that are artists. I’m often very inspired by their work and will now have a space to show it. I’ll be hosting my first exhibition in the New Year with photographer Brian Duffy’s David Bowie photos and album covers. Also, I’m a partner in a fantastic restaurant in London called Hix, so I’m planning to bring over our Chef Mark Hix to do private dinners in a pop-up restaurant environment here.
You are also doing a “Stylist of the Month” window with Marjan Malakpour as your first collaborator?
Yes. I have a lot of stylist friends in Los Angeles, so I thought it would be great to collaborate with them by featuring their styling work with our jewelry in the store window. We work with a lot of people and many of them go on down the road, but some have stuck with us. Marjan is one of these stylists. She’s become a very close friend and continues to be massively supportive.
What do you like to do when you’re not designing jewelry?
I have a wide range of interests. I manage a band called The Rotten Hill Gang (featuring Mick Jones from The Clash). I enjoy restoring and traveling in vintage cars and motorcycles. Recently, I designed a custom guitar for Gibson and participated in a Kenwood mixer designer project benefitting charity. All of these things extend out from the brand and people come to expect these sorts of things [from me]. They want me to put the thought that I put into my jewelry into their product. I really think it’s a lot of fun.