At this month’s Paris Fashion Week, style mavens went giddy when Chanel sent models down a supermarket runway holding cartons of milk. Then, high-end Italian fashion house Moschino presented jazzed-up McDonalds uniforms. It is decided: Food as fashion is in.
One person who wasn’t surprised to see the trend was Australian jeweller Lucy Folk. The designer has gained international acclaim for her delectable gold and silver pieces, all of them expertly moulded from tasty treats like popcorn, watermelon, corn chips or seafood.
“I never really consider what I do as trend-oriented,” Folk says from her Melbourne studio, “but it’s nice to feel up to date! Fashion can be a bit much sometimes so it’s nice to see the humour. After all, who doesn’t want a Chanel ham?”
Folk has just returned from Paris, where she mingled with high-end designers and showed her new collection in the same location where Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was shot. It’s the stuff designer dreams are made of.
Appeteaser, Folk’s soon-to-be-released range of champagne and oyster-inspired jewels, is a playful interpretation of luxury, with caviar rings, cobalt blue crochet and gold-plated oysters complete with pearl inside.
Folk’s unique, colourful designs are sold everywhere from Japan to the Maldives, a massive
achievement given that she only started in 2007. Her first collection was a range of pasta jewellery, a nod to her kindergarten art projects – it was a runaway success.
“My family has always been in hospitality so we grew up in the kitchen getting our hands dirty,” Folk says. “Food is my way of making fun of myself and working with something familiar, while looking at shapes and textures. It’s not quite as literal as it sounds.”
To make her coveted pieces, the designer uses real food, moulded and cast in sterling silver or gold. Everything is done by hand – she has done everything from hollowing out lobster legs, collecting seeds from watermelons and coating popcorn in layers of fine metal.
One of the brand’s biggest triumphs so far has been the moment when international music phenomenon Beyonce wore a set of Lucy Folk earrings in two film clips from her new album and throughout her entire Australian tour.
“That was pretty bloody amazing!” Folk says, “I didn’t get to meet her but I touched her. I know that sounds crazy.”
It was a huge step in an ongoing effort to crack the international market, an experience which Folk describes as “a slow burn”. With a steadily growing list of celebrity clients, including popstar Rita Ora and Bradley Cooper’s model girlfriend, Suki Waterhouse, the process is becoming slightly easier.
No matter what happens, Folk is determined to stick with her edible roots.
“I think it’s good to have something unique that people can recognize,” she says. “I’m pretty much writing my own menu every season!”