Not much has changed about Collette Ishiyama since she was a DIY-minded little girl in the pristine ‘burb of Cranford, New Jersey. “One of my aunts sent me some pictures recently from when I was a little kid. I was probably seven years old, and I was wearing an outfit that I would totally wear now,” Collette shares with a laugh. “I’ve just been the same throughout.”
This isn’t a case of arrested development—far from it. It’s more that Collette has always known what she likes, and, luckily, for us that has included making jewelry. Back then, that meant stringing together seashells and creating composites of her mother’s broken jewelry with the help of her father and his drill. Her life-long hobby turned into a full-time job when, after dropping out of Pratt and taking on a series of internships, she debuted her namesake line in February 2011.
Much like her personal style, Collette’s design aesthetic came together early on: The vibe of her work, driven by stingray leather housed in brass, reveal a childhood spent around Art Deco pieces, thanks to her mom’s job as an antique dealer. To keep that nearly 100-year-old style modern and grounded, she constructs every piece by hand. “It makes your options that much wider when you’re not reliant on anyone,” she says. “There’s a lot more freedom to doing it yourself.” We’re sure the younger Collette would have agreed. —anthonia akitunde
Behind The Scenes
Step Into Collette Ishiyama’s Super-Airy Chelsea Studio In a past life, it was home to a fashion photog.Most BFFs share secrets and clothes, but Collette Ishiyama’s pals are a little more go-big-or-go-home: When Collette mentioned wanting a workspace separate from her East Village home, her friend offered to share hers. It was that easy. Ready for the list of reasons it’s probably better than your office? “It’s a pretty bike ride from my apartment, walkable to the Diamond District—and the owner was a fashion photographer in the seventies,” says Co... READ MORE »
Peek Inside Collette Ishiyama's Jewelry Box This accessories designer started out as a collector.Collette Ishiyama likes the idea of uniforms. Her style has remained unchanged since she was seven—she admits that there was liquid eyeliner and a bowler hat involved even then. And this consistent approach to dressing may explain why she’s so drawn to eclectic jewelry. “I also like the sentimentality of it. The permanence of it is pretty awesome,” Collette explains. With these emotional ties in mind, she’s game to reminiscence about the or... READ MORE »
Collette Ishiyama Makes a Brass (and Stingray!) Necklace Check out how she created her completely stunning Of a Kind edition.The tools in play.It’s a little bit of a contradiction, making an underwater animal known for its stealthy camouflage the focal point of a piece of jewelry. But Collette Ishiyama was taken with stingray leather immediately when she encountered it on a trip to Thailand a few years back. “In the markets in Bangkok, you would see a lot of stingray stuff. When I came back from that trip, I was like, ‘This is definitely a directio... READ MORE »