The ‘Pretty Vacant’ exhibition, launched last week at Red Bull NZ HQ in Grey Lynn, showcased some of the label’s most iconic jewellery pieces from the last 11 years enlarged 80 times their normal size and photographed on New Zealand’s west coast.
Stolen Girlfriends Club creative director Marc Moore says jewellery often gets lost in the background, so the idea behind the project was to place jewellery centre-stage.
“The idea was always to put jewellery at the forefront, to blow it up so it was unavoidable. We always found in fashion shoots and editorials, the jewellery would get lost when being worn by the model.
“We felt the ‘still life’ approach was a little tired too so we wanted jewellery to become art and overshadow people for once.”
The project is a collaboration with photographer Derek Henderson and Red Bull and was born out of a brainstorming session at the Red Bull office. Once the idea to make huge sculptures of the jewellery was tabled, Moore knew an extra element was needed to turn the project into art.
That’s where Henderson’s expertise came into the mix.
“The idea of blowing up the jewellery in polystyrene was nothing new, but I think by adding Derek’s touch to this project we took the whole idea to a new place,” Moore says.
The overblown industrial pieces were first up-scaled in CAD, then laser cut from polystyrene and hand-painted. The first Stolen Girlfriend’s Club jewellery item ever made, the Death Metal Bracelet, and the Bow Ring, were recreated to scale and with serious attention to detail.
Henderson has worked with Stolen Girlfriends Club since the label began and enjoys the brand’s approach. “As soon as I heard the idea to enlarge the jewellery 80 times its normal size I was attracted to it. [I wasn’t even] thinking about the photography, [I just knew} that it was going to look interesting,” Henderson says.
The Sydney-based photographer shot the images on a 4x5 field camera that shoots colour negative film – not digital. The process means the images hold their quality when enlarged and look more like paintings, he says.
Stolen Girlfriends Club jewellery has become hugely successful in New Zealand since the label began in 2005. Moore says the pieces have become iconic for a combination of reasons. The Death Metal Bracelet is the only piece that features the complete brand name on it, and holds a special place in the label’s heart, while the Bow Ring has become a staple of the young New Zealander’s jewellery box.
“It [the Bow Ring’s success] honestly blows me away and humbles me. The proportions of the bow and the detailed 3D style it has been made in really complements the hand [of the wearer] and adds to its popularity.”
Having the word ‘Stolen’ on the jewellery seems to propel jewellery sales-wise, he says.
With such iconic designs under their belt, there are some pressures when it comes to designing new pieces. Trying to keep each piece on-brand and on-trend can be a challenge. “As I get wiser I’m really trying to cut back to what the brand is about and keep it simple and true instead of getting sucked into trends that come and go.
“As a designer I tend to get carried away with influences and references and I love so many things at one time it’s hard to combine everything into an idea that is sexy but also wearable and affordable.”