Monique Erickson of Erickson Beamon jewelry
“This season, my woman is powerful and in control of her beauty, her life, and her destiny,” – Karen Erickson
Karen Erickson, a founder of Erickson Beamon jewelry along with Vicki Beamon, insists that her brand’s success rests on the strength of its ability to change while continuing to support the underlying brand aesthetic. “I’m an Aquarius. Aquarius is the zodiac sign for change,” said Karen, “Conformity is the greatest punishment for an Aquarian. Uniqueness is in my DNA. My mind is filled with ideas waiting to be born. We never lack for new and unusual designs, because I literally cannot create new pieces fast enough. I never slow down.” I asked Karen, to her, what is Erickson Beamon – what does it represent? “We pioneered statement jewelry in the 80s,” she said, “We’ve been in business for over 28 years, and we’ve dressed everyone from Madonna to Lady Gaga, from Lady Gaga to Beyonce, from Beyonce to Michelle Obama, and from Michelle Obama to Michael Jackson. The UK prime minister’s wife is a collector, as is the first lady of Russia. Gwyneth Paltrow, Daphne Guinness, Sarah Jessica Parker are all fans.”
Erickson Beamon Bosa Nova Earrings
Each piece of Erickson Beamon jewelry is handmade in the company’s Manhattan atelier and crafted to last. Karen said that her company’s greatest accomplishment thus far was their latest fashion week presentation at Milk Studios. “Fashion is such a fast paced industry and we continually reinvent ourselves with designs and strive for the highest quality production,” said Vicki Beamon. And, it doesn’t stop with just fashion – Erickson Beamon takes creativity to an entirely different level. “Erickson Beamon The Redemption of Eve: Return to the Garden was a multi media fashion, art, dance extravaganza,” said Karen. It was yet another show for the books. And, in fact, the jewelry label is credited with creating the timeless chandelier earring. How exactly did this particular design that was celebrated by Vogue and widely copied come to be? “I coined the phrase `chandelier earring’ in the 1980s when I designed a tiny dollhouse chandelier earring, a piece which has been housed in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for two decades,” said Karen, “My first life-sized chandelier, made at the request of Simon Doonan for the windows of Barneys, commemorated Erickson Beamon’s 20th Anniversary.”
Erickson Beamon Bette Davis Eyes Bracelet
Erickson Beamon Bette Davis Eyes Earrings
The designer said she draws inspiration for her collections from all aspects of life. “The world is my inspiration,” she said, “Nothing is off limits to spark my creative flame. Something as simple as a word or an image, or a general theme for an upcoming photo shoot, can lead to the production of an entire collection. I strive to create memorable, fashion-forward pieces that push boundaries within the design world.” Clearly, Karen’s inspirations have left their mark on the brand – creating unique pieces that are celebrated around the globe. “I’m not inspired by a particular person, place, or thing,” she said, “I am inspired by life, art, culture, politics. I love the concept of Occupy Wall Street: Power to the People Right Now.” And, what does the design pair feel truly differentiates their collections from others? “Our style is beautifully crafted and uniquely designed,” said Vicki, “It is the appreciation of these qualities that I think distinguishes us from other brands and makes our customers so diverse.”
Karen’s daughter, Monique Erickson, also has a strong role in the family business. “Boy, are we a family business,” said Monique, “My mother, Karen is our founder and creative director. My father Eric is our CFO. My older sister Mandie is our PR Director. I manage the brand and act, as it were, as the face. We all study Kabbalah, so we know we are part of each other’s spiritual journey. We are fundamentally more potent as a group.” Another case of like mother like daughter, Monique said that they both work closely together. “We compliment each other and push each other’s buttons,” she said, “As far as taste is concerned, our aesthetics are very similar. At an exhibition we would gravitate towards similar artworks. The same is true with fashion and literature, and life too.”
Erickson Beamon Bette Davis Necklace
Monique’s favorite Erickson Beamon piece is her Ice Age headpiece (top image). “I wear it every day, to fashion parties or burger joints (except when I wear my glasses),” she said, “On those days I wear my favorite ‘frostbite’ necklace.’” And, for whom do both she and her mother find themselves designing for in mind? “Every woman with style and a sense of humor, from all ages from thirteen to ninety is our girl,” said Karen, “Our work is timeless. Fashion is global and taste is universal.” As for collaborations, Erickson Beamon doesn’t shy away from pairing up their limitless creativity with that of other leading designer labels. “I love a research project,” said Karen, “I dig deep into the designer’s mind to make their dreams and vision a reality. Collaborating for the runway is one of the most rewarding aspects of my design process.”
Erickson Beamon Bette Davis Eyes Necklace
Detail – Erickson Beamon Bette Davis Eyes Necklace
Does it get difficult to multi-task? Focusing both on their own collection and their collaborations and projects with other designers? Karen shared that maintaining structure can be the greatest challenge within their family business. “We’re an independently owned fashion company,” she said, “Every piece of Erickson Beamon is custom made by hand in our atelier in Chelsea, New York. When I started in 1983 and people referred to offshore production, I thought they meant New Jersey. So what we do, foremost, is a labor of love.” And, while speaking of structure – Erickson Beamon incorporated the strong architecture-inspired look into their fall line. “We didn’t want anything too girly or overly feminine,” she said, “This season, my woman is powerful and in control of her beauty, her life, and her destiny.” When it comes to the company’s own destiny, Erickson Beamon hopes to start a handbag line in the future. “I want to make shoes and bags, open shops, grow, grow, grow,” said Karen.
With so much success and celebrities wearing their pieces left and right – when exactly did they know they’d made it? “The minute you think you’ve made it you’ve lost the game,” said Monique, “A designer always needs to run, and run fast, because someone is always behind you, waiting for you to slow down.” So, what exactly keeps them going and at an extremely fast pace? It seems that the energy of Erickson Beamon comes from not just limiting themselves to one particular area or person- Erickson Beamon infuses their style into all that is inspiring, creative, and alive. “We like to think that we cover the fashion map,” said Karen, “Our jewelry has graced the runways of Givenchy, Dior, Donna Karan, Alexander McQueen etcetera. We hope to add you to our fan club.” And, with that answer, Erickson Beamon immediately gained a new fan on Facebook – me.
*Dallas friends: Be sure to come to the trunk show reception this Thursday at SWAG at NorthPark Center and meet Monique Erickson! See you there!