Jewelry designer Roxanne Assoulin just wants to have fun. After 37 years in the business, Assoulin has a stacked resume that reads like a who's who in the industry—she's designed for everyone, from big-name designers like Marc Jacobs, Stephen Sprouse, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta to private labels for household brands, like Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, and Loft. She also had her own jewelry line at one point, Lee Angel. And now, at 61-years-old, Assoulin only has one label that has her undivided attention: Roxanne Assoulin.
At first glance, her pieces look simple, and well, it's because they are. That's the whole point. Assoulin has created a line of tiled jewelry so uncomplicated in its delivery, so refreshingly basic, that it's genius. Her chokers and bracelets (earrings are next—you heard it here first) come in a rainbow spectrum, two-tone neutrals intended to resemble Breton stripes, and metallics.
"They remind me of Chiclets gum, of candy," she says. "It's fun, it's colorful, it's not precious, it's not complicated. And everyone wants it. The best thing about it is that it crosses real boundaries. People of all ages can wear it, from a kid to someone in their 60s and 70s."
Much like all great things, she founded her eponymous line completely by accident. One afternoon, she was in her studio playing with these hand-enameled mosaic tiles that she's had in her office for something like 20 years (for color palettes and jewelry add-ons) when the idea sparked: "Let's make a bracelet out of this." Her technician drew it up, it was sent to the model maker, the tiles were made (in three different sizes) and strung with an elastic, and—voilà—Assoulin's brainchild was born. Ten months and 40 color combo experimentations later, she launched her collection—also completely by accident. Her line unofficially debuted on Baja East's spring 2016 runway last year after a last-minute panic attack about the lack of jewelry. Crisis averted, thanks to Assoulin's creations. And then it made its debut again five months ago when she showed them to Leandra Medine, social media savant-slash-fashion influencer-slash-the original Man Repeller.
"Leandra put everything on at once—she stacked like eight chokers and 16 bracelets," Assoulin recalls. "And then an hour later, my Instagram was blowing up. She launched the collection for me. I didn't even have a website up."
It all happened so fast, Assoulin's bio on the site still reads "blah blah blah" as its placeholder. But more than anything, all of this proves the immense power of social media. Instagram still continues to drive sales. In fact, Assoulin doesn't operate on anything other than her phone, which not only cuts out the middle man and brick-and-mortar stores, but it also suggests that this might be the way of the future. Whether she intended to or not, Assoulin has created a collection for the digital age. Perhaps it's because she draws inspiration from the "kids" around her, like Medine, her daughter-in-law Rosie Assoulin (one of the buzziest designers around and also the recipient of this year's Swarovski Collective Award), and Claire Distenfeld (the cool-girl owner of Fivestory).
And in the past five months, her pieces have been seen around the necks and wrists of everyone, including Instagram's Eva Chen at the Tony Awards and celebrities like Michelle Monaghan, Karlie Kloss, and Dianna Agron. Even Assoulin's 65-year-old male therapist asked for one. Despite her rapid ascent to social media fame, she's still unsure of the future of her fledgling brand.
"I still don't know if I have a hit on my hands, I don't know if this will last," she says, modestly. "But this makes me happy, and where I'm at, it's about working with the people I love and doing something I love."
You can buy her spectrum bracelets for $75 a piece, $210 for a set of three, and $340 for a set of five; her spectrum chokers for $120; and her one x one beaded chokers for $75 at roxanneassoulin.com.