Jewelry Designer to Know: Nektar de Stagni

March 05, 2012 | by —Beth Landman | Style & Beauty

De Stagni at The Standard

Though she’s currently braving a cold New York winter, Nektar De Stagni looks down wistfully at the flamingo-adorned flip-flops she is fond of wearing because they are so stereotypically Miami. “I’m fantasizing about lying on the beach at Soho Beach House, eating fruit and drinking Evian,’’ she confides.

The 28-year-old designer—best known for whimsical jewelry—has recently closed NDS, the clothing and accessories boutique she opened in the Design District five years ago; she has plans to open a new Miami shop by year’s end. While searching for a fresh location, she’s taking her store on the road, with plans to open pop-ups in New York this winter and East Hampton over the summer. “The [NDS] store was a creative platform that happened to have a retail aspect,” she explains of the space in which she held art and fashion events as well as showed her designs.

De Stagni was born in Miami and raised in Napa Valley, California. “I grew up picking blackberries and eating apples off the tree,” she muses. “But design was second nature to me; I still have piles of sketches I did as a kid.”

She began researching back then, studying illustrations by Erté and Aubrey Beardsley and examining shapes and fabrics. “I was always wearing costumes, and I started altering my own clothes when I was six,” she recalls. Her first design experiment was pasting pennies on the bottoms of her flat Mary Janes to imitate the click-clack of high heels. “I wish I still had them,” she says with a sigh. By the time she was in her early teens, her family had returned to Miami and she was taking sewing lessons and buying every book she could find about the fashion business. “Miami has always been a strong source of inspiration. It’s a city of contrasts with a lot of different aesthetics merging,” she says.

De Stagni’s sartorial ambitions soon took a backseat to her jewelry. “It became so popular and consumed all my time, so I stopped making clothes.” Her plan is to pick up fabrics again, but right now, she is readying her new collection, which she plans to unveil this month at both The Webster and the STND/OHWOW boutique at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach.

Like much of her work, the soon-to-debut pieces celebrate contrast. They are largely based on Baroque jewelry interrupted by minimal metal forms—ornate designs intersected with squares or simple shapes of rose gold, bronze, and oxidized “black gold.” There are also white-pearl necklaces with bursts of bright cobalt and lavender velvet.

Her signature collections feature pearls pavéd with happy faces, and natural rope wrapped with crystal or silk. “I am always playing with opposites, combining classic or natural with humor or popular symbols,” De Stagni explains.

It turns out those symbols that wind up as beautiful adornments come from her dedication to pop culture, and hours of viewing old shows and videos on the computer. “I get a lot of images and influences from YouTube!” she reveals. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG DELMAN

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