Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

For a pair of "accidental" jewellers, Yunus Ascott and Eliza Higginbottom are doing remarkably well for themselves. They have won Elle Talent Launchpad, created one off pieces for films and music videos, collaborated with Fyodor Golan AND have their magical, sculptural, one- of- a kind pieces stocked at Luisa Via Roma and Luna and Curious at The Sanderson. This London Fashion Week, they are joining Rock Vault, the jewellery exhibition which sits at Somerset House and showcase the most innovative and exciting jewellers London has to offer.

Yunus and Eliza's pieces are works of art, crafted from precious metals into intricate pieces with references from art, mythology, architecture and literature. No wonder really given that Eliza grew up as one of seven children of an Oxford don. Her childhood revolved around music practice, devouring books and exploring the tower (one of the town's 'dreaming spires') to which she and her siblings held the key. It all sounds extremely Harry Potter but when I visited them at their West London studio a couple of weeks ago, Eliza described how her upbringing has instilled in her a kind of "internal reference system" whereby she always has images popping into her mind and combining with one another. Yunus in turn was a "free spirit" who, rather brilliantly, managed to get himself expelled from one of those famously liberal Steiner schools.

Yunus and Eliza masks at yesterday's Fyodor Golan show (image from 
Where some designers home in on a particular period or idea, Yunus and Eliza tend to work more freely, swapping their ideas and balancing out one another's particular obsessions: Beauty (Yunus) and the darker side of life (Eliza). Their signature pieces like the 'Skyscraper" ring and the "Goddess" pendant certainly speak of such a process but they also allude to the pair's mutual obsession with looking up from street level to the architecture and sky above- it's true, take your eyes off the street and look up and the world becomes a far lovelier place. When they started out, Eliza admits it was difficult to get the fashion calendar, 'everyone was talking about A/W and S/S and I didn't have a clue what they meant. I was just making stuff as far as I was concerned'. They've become rather good at developing overriding themes and for SS13 these include Lalique and Art Nouveau. When I visit, the pieces are still very much a work in progress but this is the direction they're going in.

Yunus and Eliza Skyscraper ring £420 

Yunus and Eliza Goddess pendant £320
Yunus and Eliza, the jewellery venture, began quite by chance. After Eliza left university having studied history, she began working with children. What began as a Sunday pottery class in Stoke Newington turned into a casting course at Central St Martin's followed by Heatherley School of Fine Art. It was when she went to the workshops where Yunus was completing a sculpting apprenticeship to enquire about having some of her work cast that the two met. Eliza embarked on a 'mini apprecticeship' of her own. They formed a partnership and one day made a ring "by accident". Their friend Eliisa Makin wanted to feature it in The Independent and so Yunus and Eliza, the jewellers began.

The workshops where Yunus and Eliza cast, sculpt and weld their collections
They've still continued to work on bigger projects like gargoyle statues for New College, Oxford and, rather impressively, the Old Father Thames sculpture which adorned the front of the Queen's barge during the Diamond Jubilee river pageant celebrations earlier this year. They headed up the casting team alongside Fionn Rawnsley which brought Alan Lamb's design to life- amazingly, it really looks like a huge version of one of their jewellery creations. On top of this, there have been some fun music and film collaborations including . Bryan Singer's upcoming 'Jack the Giant Killer' film will feature a Princess adorned with a Yunus and Eliza cuff while Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (admittedly, Eliza's brother) wears their creations on his album cover.

Magnificent head pieces by Yunus and Eliza

Rule Britannia cuff from AW12
The Metropolis ring from AW12
Unsurprisingly given their varied and exciting repertoire, Toyota have been filming a documentary following Yunus and Eliza for the Global Creative network. Eliza reckons the experience has been "stressful but great". These two are obviously spinning many plates but if one thing is clear when I visit, it's that they are most at home painstakingly moulding and chiseling away to make one-off sculptures. I can't wait to see what they've come up with for their Rock Vault debut and perhaps the Queen will drop by to pick up a hefty cuff to show appreciation for their jubilee contribution?

Rock Vault is part of the exhibition space at Somerset House, open throughout London Fashion Week


Post a Comment