I had a chance to sit down with designer Doo-ri Chung and jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning at the Doo.Ri studio. It’s time for Crafternoon Tea! It was a much needed escape in the midst of a hectic week where I was joined by a few lovely fellow bloggers (including The Coveted, Fasshonaburu, Dream Sequins, White Lightening, Geometric Sleep, On the Racks) mini tea sandwiches, tea, lovely hydrangea & rose flowers, Magnolia cupcakes and piles of embroidery thread in an assortment of lovely colors.It’s fashion week therapy, restoration for my soul and honestly I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present (last Wednesday was my birthday)! All my worries, stresses and concerns melted away for a delicious couple of hours.
The first thing I noticed that Doo-ri’s hair was down and not in her signature braids that she so often wears when she’s “on-the-job”. Today will be about something different. Today will be about building relationships and having fun. It was my first time meeting Melissa Joy Manning, and I actually first noticed her because of her great necklace!
MJM giving us a demo. Doo-ri's bracelet is in her school colors!
So what were we crafting? We went back to the days of summer camp while making friendship bracelets! In my NYC busyness, I so often forget how creating jewelry used to be such a hobby of mine! I shared with the ladies how for a period in my life I was also obsessed with using embroidery thread to create decorative hair wraps! Now that I think of it, perhaps I may resurrect this for a day in the nearby future. We also talked about previous childhood memories like Fimo, Friendly Plastic and Barbies!
Even a designer's tape dispenser is not safe! My friendship bracelet.
Many of us were fuzzy on how to create friendship bracelets although we cranked out quite a few in the past - so Melissa took the time to patiently instruct each of us in the ways of spiral staircase and how to finish off using a slip knot.
I also had the chance to view the delicate/organic feeling pieces that DRC & MJM collaborated on for Spring 2011 available for viewing. With the slightly dull pewter finish and delicate pieces of chain delicately interwoven throughout the collection, I wasn’t sure what to make of it when I saw it on the table. However, the instant I picked up the pieces, I knew differently. The way they wrap around your fingers and hands, the jewelry becomes alive and becomes an extension of your very being. About the collaboration MJM says, “Doo.Ri has a wonderful aesthetic that combines minimal, tailored looks with more feminine draping, and we’re hoping that the organic nature of our designs will play off of this for a compelling contrast.“ The pieces are so sexy and while I can’t share images just yet, I’ll definitely be sharing sometime soon.
Doo-ri Chung & Melissa Joy Manning
I asked the ladies how they first met and Doo-ri instantly says, “Texas!” and quickly explains that they met while doing a trade show together and soon became fast friends. This isn’t the first time they have collaborated, DRC, also used MJM’s pieces alongside her Resort collection. MJM shared how she used an organic compound called Precious Metal Clay to create the original pieces and after a kiln firing, the compound burns away and pure silver is left. This material is then molded further and a cast is set to create the finished pieces. This is crafting taken to a whole new level.
I also commented how Doo-ri seemed so serene but she attributed it to utter exhaustion! It has only been 3 days since her show on Friday. After weeks and maybe even months of working from 9am-1am, it’s amazing to see her still functioning. I can only say that she is an amazing woman, because after a weekend of rest, she is already starting to think of what will come next. She actually used to show closer to the end of NYFW, but after feedback from her sales staff, they made a shift to show in the beginning. Like any true perfectionist, she can only appreciate her own work in retrospect because most of the time it’s too close and too personal. Fashion stops for no one.
In utter sincerity, Doo-ri shares that when she finishes a collection, the last thing she wants to look at or think about is clothes. “I want to watch sports”, she exclaims to the amused surprise of everyone in attendance. She can’t bring herself to watch reality TV. Her favorite seasons to design are actually the pre-collections because they are about designing clothes that she knows her clients want to wear. Her inspirations are never trend driven. Perhaps aside from watching sports, she’s a woman after my own heart. I can see her wisdom, her honesty and her humanity.