Marie-Lise Lachapelle gives Mother Nature a run for her money
Marie-Lise Lachapelle, like most, finds flowers beautiful. But unlike most, she also uses these flowers as the foundation of her jewelry design work. Taking gorgeous elements from nature such as orchids or leaves, she fashions them into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that truly deserve to be named “art.”
Lachapelle’s interest in fashion started early. Creativity runs in the family: Her father was a sculptor, her mother a painter, and both supported her passion.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that a creative career was in store for me. … When I was really little, I took my sketchbook everywhere with me. It literally never left my side,” she explained of her childhood in Quebec.
As she grew, her interest turned to creating clothes and jewelry. Eight years ago, she decided to eschew the traditional corporate world and pursue her love of fashion. And where better to go to make her dream a reality than New York? But it proved to be a difficult move. Eventually she found work as a fashion stylist, but continued to learn about jewelry making through workshops and research on the side.
“I loved the creative process as a stylist, and loved playing with clothing and accessories, but still felt like there was something lacking in my day-to-day activities as a stylist,” Lachapelle said. “So to fill a void with some of my styling creations, I started making actual accessories to complement looks that needed that ‘little bit of something.’”
Soon she was crafting jewelry for all the ensembles she styled. Seeing models and celebs wearing her pieces compelled her to turn to jewelry design full-time. In 2005, she launched her first collection, just three years after coming to the Big Apple. From there, her business gradually grew. Today she has a number of collections under her belt.
Lachapelle describes her jewelry as soft and feminine yet bold — perfect for free-spirited women who want something special and different.
“You can find pieces that are really statement-making and you can also find pieces that are very subtle and sophisticated, always have an edge to (them),” she revealed. “I create for a woman that likes to take risks, but isn't a slave to trends and is always setting her own tone in fashion.”
From roses to shells, her jewelry draws literally from nature’s bounty, especially her signature pieces made of real flowers preserved in resin, silver and gold.
“Nature is a huge influence for me, but it's so much more than that. The city where I live – New York – inspires me, nature in the city and outside in the countryside, trees, flowers, people, old movies, foreign locations I have been fortunate to travel to, my beautiful little bundle of joy, Solia, my 2-year-old daughter, are all tremendous influences for all of my designs.”
Lachapelle has moved from making everything by hand with simple equipment – just some pliers and the material in her tiny apartment -- to using more sophisticated 3-D modeling programs.
“There was jewelry everywhere you looked, like a jewelry bomb went off!” she said of her studio. “Thank god I gave in and got a team and a factory where everything is still made by hand in New York City, under my total supervision.”
Her favorite part of fashion and designing is that “you can make it your own.”
“With the right outfit and accessories, you can just go about your day feeling good,” she said. “We can ignore the fact that fashion is everywhere and you can make what you want of it. I love to be able to play a small role in this industry by creating original pieces that makes people worldwide smile and feel special.”
A slight departure from her signature lacquered flower and leaf style, Lachapelle’s latest collection features frames inspired by Renaissance and Baroque art. But she has not forgotten her natural roots: Nestled inside the frames are small birds, branches and flowers.
Instead of simply plating natural resources as usual, she has fashioned each piece out of precious metals. By centering this collection on frames, Lapachelle has turned the frame into art itself.
“The frames are my new babies,” she exclaimed. “I am so thrilled with this line. I've always been fascinated with frames – the frames I designed are inspired by different eras but the result is extremely modern and wearable.”
While she believes in staying true to her unique style, she looks at each collection as a chance to re-invent herself.
“I still and probably will always work with lacquered flowers and other elements of nature like shells and leaves,” she explained. “I just felt it was time for me to explore different horizons.”
Experience all her collections at www.marieliselachapelle.com.