Very few designers can claim to have dressed both the First Lady and Lady Gaga, but even fewer share the imagination of jewelers Erickson Beamon.
Welcome to their universe, where glittering snowflakes freeze into delicate drop earrings, black roses bloom on bangles, a “Brave New World” is being charted out with yards of pearls and the “Duchess of Fabulous” rules the roost. Prepare to “Be…dazzled,” warned the late Alexander McQueen, a frequent collaborator.
Founded and designed by Detroit natives Karen & Eric Erickson, Erickson Beamon was born out of the same spontaneous spirit that carries the brand forward today. Working with a local designer on their premiere runway show in the early ’80s, Karen Erickson knew that jewelry was necessary. But little did she know that by merely stringing crystals and beads onto suede, she was launching a company that would soon be featured in Vogue, and credited with creating the chandelier earring. Erickson Beamon opened a European division in 1985, and the opening of a flagship boutique in London’s Belgravia soon followed. Erickson Beamon is now sold in over 600 stores in 75 nations worldwide.
Though the collection has grown exponentially in the past 27 years, the same handcrafted aesthetic is still Erickson Beamon’s trademark. Walk into their design studios in Manhattan’s West Chelsea and visitors will find artisans sitting before trays laden with crystals and semi-precious stones, meticulously assembling each piece by hand. Lying nearby on a table will be the results of some new experiment Karen and is conducting pushing the possibilities of pearls, crystals and chains—including mirrors, masks, and a chandelier collection that was launched in 2004.
With a fount of creative energy to tap into, it’s little wonder that Erickson Beamon is an in-demand collaborator for fashion houses like Donna Karan, John Galliano, Zac Posen, Givenchy, Anna Sui, Marchesa, and Emanuel Ungaro. “Erickson Beamon is really an overdose of beauty and creativity,” says Dries Van Noten.
“The jewelry from Erickson Beamon is original and has such variety that every woman, from romantics to the hard core, can fall in love,” says Olivier Theyskens, explaining an endless list of private clients like Madonna, Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman. Daphne Guinness regularly arrives at photo shoots with suitcases full of her own favorite pieces. And while the jewelers have created magnificently insane looks for Gaga ranging from a diamante cage mask to a Spanish jet-encrusted lace mantilla, Michelle Obama favors the more demure floral brooches and pearl necklaces.
Such inspired artistry has been immortalized in the collections of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum, where the “Dollhouse” chandelier earrings are permanently housed. Erickson Beamon has also been honored with a retrospective exhibition, first curated in 2003 by Simon Doonan for the windows of Barneys in honor of the brand’s 20th anniversary. The retrospective has since traveled as far afield as Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford.
The house now boasts a fine jewelry collection, offering the brand’s signature style in diamonds and 18 karat gold. An eyewear license was added in 2007, and the designers launched a limited edition capsule collection Erickson Beamon for Target in February 2009.
Heritage and handcraftsmanship are the Erickson Beamon hallmarks. Karen and Eric work alongside their two daughters, Mandie and Monique. Plans for the next generation: a global luxury brand that will encompass handbags, shoes, and a retail world. In 2010, Erickson Beamon will debut ‘House Jewels’, a collection of frames, mirrors, candelabra, jewelry boxes, pillows and more, to bring the iconic look home.