Heaven Tanudiredja didn’t have a chance to tidy up the day I visited his Antwerp studio in early February, leaving his desk a maelstrom of beads, tools, and findings, punctuated by the odd Marlboro package. “Cigarettes and Red Bull — this is the real me,” he joked, apologizing for the mess. But to the uninitiated visitor, of course, it was a fascinating sight, a glimpse at the primordial soup that would soon be transformed into Tanudiredja’s ever-more-elaborate fall jewelry collection, which he’ll show this week in Paris. Because everything is made by hand in the studio, his desk is actually a production hub; with his line Heaven now in its ninth season, and his elaborate bead-encrusted necklaces selling for $5,000 at the likes of Barneys New York, Tanudiredja and his three-person team are responsible for churning out upwards of 300 pieces every six months, each of which takes 48 hours of exacting beadwork to construct. Hence the stimulants — not to mention the thick-rimmed glasses he has to wear while working as a consequence of his failing eyesight.
Despite the blood, sweat, and tears he’s poured into Heaven since founding the line in 2007, though, Tanudiredja never actually intended to be a jewelry designer. After studying fashion in his native Indonesia and then attending the graduate program at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, “I made jewelry at first because I had no budget to do clothes,” admits the 29-year-old, who at the time had begun working for John Galliano’s couture team at Christian Dior, and eventually Dries Van Noten as well. “I gave one piece to my teacher and people liked it, so they bought more from me. It happened little by little. I never expected to take it seriously.” That said, the line itself was anything but a whim. From day one Tanudiredja’s inspiration for the jewelry was intensely personal, focused around the French jet from the ’20s and ’30s he began collecting as a teen, while accompanying his grandmother on trips to Paris to visit the famed Clignancourt flea market. He still builds most of his pieces around the vintage black-glass beads. “It’s a part of my past, really,” he says.
It’s his devotion to vintage materials in general — and to the sense of uniqueness and quality they confer — that makes it difficult for Tanudiredja to have his jewelry produced outside the studio. Nothing about his process is standard. “That’s why we’re working nonstop,” he sighs, especially in the leadup to Paris fashion week, where he’ll present alongside fellow Antwerp talent Lena Lumelsky at the showroom of Comme des Garcons alum Florence Deschamps. But if things are crazy now, as I discovered during the studio visit I documented at right, they’re about to get a whole lot crazier: Tanudiredja is gearing up to finally launch his first clothing collection under the Heaven label, which will debut in September. Though he hasn’t settled on a concept yet, the wheels are already turning. “With jewelry, you only have the space around the neck to work in, and that’s it,” he says. “You have to put everything there: your thoughts, your creativity. It’s almost like a dream, and the clothes bring it into reality.”
It takes the Zürich-based fashion duo Ikou Tschüss a full week to hand-knit the blankets from their winter collection — each ringed with dangling sleeves to appear as though it’s hugging the bed — and maybe a day to knit one of their bulky sweater dresses. Even silk shifts are hand-printed and edged with rows of crochet, the pair's signature trope. Add to all that labor the fact that Carmen D'Apollonio spends the majority of her time in New York, where she’s been the right-hand-woman to Swiss artist Urs Fischer for the past eight years, and it’s a good thing she and partner Guya Marini have help. “Most of our knitting is done by Swiss grandmothers now,” says Marini.
“I grew up going to pow-wows and stuff” isn’t the first thing you expect Annie Lenon to say as she’s puttering around the garden apartment and studio she shares with her boyfriend in a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene. But then you recall that the 25-year-old jewelry-maker and Pratt grad hails from Bozeman, a city of 27,000 located in the southwestern corner of Montana — a state that with its prairies and badlands and Indian reservations seems downright exotic to most New Yorkers — and you realize she’s working from an entirely different reference point.
Since graduating from London’s Royal College of Art in 2006 with a master’s degree in womenswear, Eudon Choi has had his graduate collection picked up by the fanatically worshipped Dover Street Market, been a senior designer for Savannah and Sienna Miller's label Twenty8Twelve, and been called a “fabulous individual” by our favorite throwback men’s fashion mag Fantastic Man. All of which makes his decision to move to London in 2003 — after having already completed a master’s in menswear at Yonsei University in his hometown of Seoul — seem like a pretty good move. “London, and womenswear in particular, just felt like a place where I could be more experimental,” says Choi.