ISABEL ENGLEBERT IS A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND

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Born in Argentina, Isabel Englebert started her love affair with fashion working as a model. She then moved to the corporate world in communications where she was able to travel around the world. Enriched by the experiences she had on her travels, Isabel studied Fashion design at Central Saint Martins before going on to perfect her jewellery skills in L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris. Since her brand Isabel Englebert Jewellery launched in 2012, she has been a regular feature in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The Huffington Post and Wolf & Badger. MiND Magazine was lucky to interview Isabel who kindly gave us an insight into her beautiful creations and fascinating career.

You originally started out as model fifteen years ago and then decided to go into the corporate communications, travelling, until finally going into jewellery design, how did you make that transition?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: To be honest I think it was fate. I’ve always loved fashion. Fashion was always in my family. I became a model but I wanted to study something at University like economics and communications. Then I started in communications for the corporate world in a multinational company. I was travelling around different places, different cultures. I was based at the headquarters in Switzerland. However, I was travelling around and I never saw my husband. So we agreed it was best one of us went into the corporate world and I wanted to go into freelance. I decided to study fashion design in London at Central Saint Martins. I always wanted to do design, not mass production but unique, bespoke clothing. I did classical couture fashion but it was really difficult as I was designing from Argentina and trying to get hold of  the fabrics was hard. That was when I stumbled upon jewellery making. I wanted more understanding of it, and I did some courses at L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris. I started  doing my own stuff and then I opened a showroom in Buenos Aires as well as clients in Europe. My goal is to expand my brand across the globe.

Do each of your jewellery collections have a unique story attached to them? Which one in particular is most personal to you?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: Yes definitely. The Art Deco collection which I’m selling in London are one of a kind. I have book that is full of inspirations and jottings I had whenever I saw something interesting. I started designing the collection when I was pregnant. I especially like the big necklace. I mixed  leather with hair and precious gem stones. The necklace is definitely the most personal to me because it’s related to my baby girl. I get inspiration from everywhere, when I see someone on the street or something outside. I get an idea and write it down. I usually start with one piece and then if I’m happy with it I design the whole collection around it.

art deco necklace

The stunning necklace in the Art Deco collection

You spent time travelling around the world, which country did you find most influential in your designs?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: Yes. The leather I use is very much representative of my country, Argentina, where we have a lot of cows! The others are more sophisticated. Some are inspired by African jewellery which you could just die for, they are fantastic! It is quite modern and conceptual. I use a lot of lines. So yes I was enriched by the different countries I travelled to. I was inspired by their DNA but I have elevated it to a much bigger angle in my designs.

On your website, you say ‘I like to find the perfect stones, those that have character. And with the stone as a starting point I create the perfect metal frame for it’, is that the defined path you always take when designing or do you have days where you are more instinctual and create a design that’s more experimental?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: For the more classical lines, my starting point begins when I find a stone I fall in love with, especially if it has a weird colour or design. I have a lot of stones from around the world which are like this and are waiting for me. Then afterwards I design. I do experiment and then if a new technique or design matches perfectly with a stone I will put it together. After all, the designs are like a piece of art in that they are unique.

Gorgeous green necklace from London collection

Gorgeous green necklace from London collection

Who would you say your jewellery is aimed at?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: I think my clients are fashion forward individuals who are never afraid to stand out. They have personality, are cosmopolitan and can carry my stuff but won’t be overshadowed by the designs. Jewellery is based on how you dress. For example I like clothes that are modern and sleek, and I think accessories  can explain a lot about a person. It’s more personal. That’s why I do a lot of bespoke jewellery in Argentina because my clients want something that is one of a kind especially meant for them.

What materials and techniques are you experimenting with at the moment?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: Now I’m working with gold foil mixed with acrylics. I have put it together in an earring design which creates a weird effect as if gold pieces are floating around your ear. I’m working with horse hair too. That’s the materials I’m having fun with right now.

Where do you make your pieces?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: I do everything in Argentina because they are all handmade with a goldsmith and I correct things. Then I’m finding clients who can work with us abroad.

The jewellery design field is so vast and diverse with infinite possibilities, was it hard to find your own voice for a while?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: I also do very classical things with gold and platinum, like fine jewellery however there is so much competition in that field and there are people who have had years and years of training. I always wanted to do something original. My time in the corporate world showed me that I like mixing things. I can have leather with hair. I can mix it with gold and acrylics. I’m work with different lines, I do a lot of bold things. Horse hair for example. The more unusual designs I do are what actually draws attention rather than the classical stuff. I design a lot which I would like for myself.

As well as jewellery, you have Fashion Fix which is a new online fashion magazine, how did that come about?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: Working in the communications department. I loved it. I love communications! It was the perfect thing to do. I always think back to my work in communications when I write and I discover things. I’m a fashion addict! I try to be informed all the time. I like to share the stuff I find. I always like to have international participation which is why I have correspondents from different places. I love travelling and meeting people around the world. It is the best investment you can do. I want it to be the most international way I can do it.

Isabel Englebert boutique in Buenos Aires

Isabel Englebert boutique in Buenos Aires

What’s next for you?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: In March, I will have a few meetings with retailers to continue my expansion within the UK. I want to expand in Europe and once I have done my whole sourcing really well, I want to expand in Asia, possibly Hong Kong or Singapore, that is the next step.

So we’re talking global expansion?

ISABEL ENGLEBERT: Global but I want my brand to have a unique feeling too. Not mass- produced. I want it to feel special.

Buenos Aires

Av. Alvear 1807, C1129AAA CABA, Argentina