It’s a testament to the consciously bespoke nature of Lisa Salzer’s design philosophy that the jewelry pieces she dubs “classic” in her expansive studio are actually the most impressively elaborate, each one-of-a-kind. Launched in 2004, her brand Lulu Frost accomplishes that rare feat of completely modernizing sourced, eclectic antiques into edgy pieces that brim with sophistication and lust-worthy innovation.
Salzer has a flair for antiquing in her blood. The line is named after Elizabeth Frost, her maternal grandmother who ran the family’s estate jewelry business, and her mother serves as the key buyer who hand-selects items that Salzer and her team convert into covetable statement accessories for the coolest urban fashionistas. It’s no wonder then that Salzer manages to maintain a far-reaching, adaptable empire with her visions, from an upcoming collaboration with Barney’s in Japan to ongoing collections for J. Crew that seamlessly integrate the distinctiveness of Lulu Frost into quintessentially American fashion.
Salzer’s sunny and spacious atelier in the Flatiron District is, much like the designer herself, infused with warmth, taste, and dynamism. A family-style farm table is where she greets visitors charmingly, and the cluster of cushions done in African prints, Turkish ikats, and bright weaves give a preview of the design inspirations that are moving her at the moment. “To me, jewelry is a tool for individual style,” Salzer notes. “You can get a lot of wear out of really special pieces, all the while keeping your wardrobe simple and streamlined. The trend in jewelry now is all about the mish-mash—ethnic elegance is mixed with edge, and colors are everywhere.”
For Fall 2012, Salzer channeled jewel tones of emeralds, sapphires, and yellows into a collection entitled Power, a Grace Jones-meets-Greek-goddess celebration of feminine strength. The result is a breathtaking interplay of old-world glamour and whimsy: the chunky Circe necklaces are adorned with resin, hand-painted goddess faces, Medusa snakes embellish bracelets mixed with neon and red beads, and the namesake Power necklace replicates a ’40s watchband to create a deco-inspired geometric effect. Opaline and onyx beads are stacked to resemble grown-up mood rings, and birds, lions, and chimeras are the centerpieces of the most editorial necklaces.
The overall effect is a uniquely evocative take on female empowerment that clearly resonates the personal touches of Salzer and her design team. “It’s always a labor of love,” Salzer affirms. “The greatest moment of pride comes when I see a woman going about her day, wearing one of my pieces—that never gets old.” Our take? We’d be equally proud to be one of those women.
Leena Sanzgiri is a Manhattan-based management consultant from Dubai, where she grew up loving fashion, art, music, and theater. She strives to balance writing, traveling, cooking, painting, socializing, and hunting for vintage finds with watching abnormal amounts of reality television. Stay tuned for her forthcoming personal blog and for more posts on OliviaPalermo.com, or follow her on Twitter: @leenasanzgiri