Alice Cicolini was Cast's first-ever design partner. The reasons for this are many, but her world-renowned jewelry—especially her signature use of vibrant color and enamel craftsmanship—top the list. Featured in Town & Country magazine and The New York Times, she's a brilliant artist, bona-fide badass and ridiculously charming human.
Obviously, we're not the only ones smitten with the London-based designer…so many of her pieces are customer favorites. Indeed, among Alice's biggest fans is The White Lotus's Harper Spiller (Aubrey Plaza). Her Sicilian adventures—and outfits—are made infinitely chicer thanks to the Icon Collection.
In a full-circle moment, Alice crossed the pond to host a trunk show at our Corte Madera boutique this summer. Co-founder Rachel Skelly sat down with her to chat about all things jewelry design and more.
Highlights from the lively conversation here:
Her customer: People always ask me who I design for, and I think it's really about the idea of a woman who really knows herself. She’s got this strong character and personality. You know she’s very in touch with her femininity. This is something I always try to bring into my own work, but it's the essence of the Cast woman.
Her first Cast collab: It's always a really interesting challenge for a designer to try and interpret one's DNA in the context of somebody else’s design language. I knew Rachel was a great '50s, '60s and '70s pattern girl so we looked for patterns that were already about what she loved as a creative person. Then, we tried to render them in a way that was unique and different. All of the color in the Mad Mod Cuff is really crisp and bold and just feels like a marriage of our interests and vision. What I love about it is that it's so distinctly me, but it's also so distinctly Cast.
Creating an Icon: When we first started talking, you asked me to think about what an icon in jewelry might be. That's really interesting because, in a sense, something's iconic status is conferred over time rather than as an intent from the beginning. But Cast had such a strong logo identity, and the C was such a great shape, my plan was just that. So really the Icon Collection started there and because it already had a knife's edge in the form, it was a logical thing to bring into the jewels themselves.
The White Lotus: Don't tell anyone—I haven't seen it yet. [Our lips are sealed.] I know Icon's Iced Onyx Edge Pendant was a favorite of Aubrey Plaza's character Harper. What's really interesting about this shape is that setting the diamonds on the inside is quite hard. The thing about simplicity is that it's almost the hardest thing to design. To make something that is simple but also full of character and distinctive is such a huge design challenge. In a way it's almost easier to go over the top and create something with stones all over it.
But to get a perfect marriage of something that feels effortless but also unique is very difficult and for this pendant, we set the factory with quite a challenge (setting diamonds on the inside). They've done such a beautiful job. It sparkles in this way that isn't super bling since the diamonds are facing in a direction that you don't expect. Not knowing loads about Aubrey's character, though, I guess what you get in the gorgeous Italian sun is this really subtle shimmer.
Silver and gold as a couple: I love the combination of silver and gold. The combo was really strong and like a '70s thing in jewelry. Again, sort of knowing [Rachel] and her preferences, I thought using both metals in the Fearless Muse Ring [and many pieces from the Icon Collection] was kind of perfect. It completely encapsulates that feeling of soft femininity, but it's contemporary because it has that knife's edge that makes it strong at the same time.
Clients often say that they feel like they rise into their jewelry—like a stepping into yourself. And there's something about the scale in my work that feels really important because it has that boldness. And you can do that with silver in a way that is so much harder with gold.
Evolving a jewelry wardrobe: Every time I'm designing something new, I think about whether it would fit in with another piece of mine that a woman may have. How can she add things so it’s not like each piece is a standalone but rather that she’s just evolving the way she wears her jewelry. This is important for Cast as well, and you're already creating a kind of jewelry wardrobe language.
Working with enamel: Probably my most famous collection is Memphis, which was the first one where I worked with lacquered enamel (vs. glass enamel). The thing is, there are very few people that will mix Pantones, but my enameler in London will mix any Pantones I want. That's kind of completely freeing from a color perspective. I was like, OK, now I get to play. The process is different because you cast the channels into the metal at the beginning.
Her next Cast purchase: The Standout Icon Wristlet [also worn by Harper in The White Lotus]. I have to admit this is on my wish list, and sure to be my next purchase.