We talked to Fiona Kotur ~ Hong Kong based accessories turned jewellery designer to find out what makes her tick…
La Maison Couture: We are so excited to be featuring your new collection with Atelier Swarovski on our site! How did the collaboration come about?
Fiona Kotur: Thank you so much. I am thrilled as well, for the chance to have this collaboration with Atelier Swarovski, and to be featured on La Maison Couture. The collaboration was serendipitous- It came about during a meeting with Nadja in LA about a different project all together. During the conversation we started bantering ideas back and forth, about our shared love of statement jewellery, bold shapes and unexpected mixes of material, and almost immediately a collaboration was born. The collection as it exists is really a collection of ideas all from that initial conversation.
La Maison Couture: What influenced you to use walnut wood as the primary material for many of the pieces?
Fiona Kotur: I have always loved and collected wood jewellery, having long admired the work of iconic jewellers from the early 20th century such as Verdura and Seaman Schepps. I also love certain properties of wood: its warm touch, its opaqueness and its irregular nature, especially in contrast to the sharp clarity of the crystals.
La Maison Couture: Where do you source your materials? What efforts are you making to source responsibly?
Fiona Kotur: The Swarovski team prioritized responsible sourcing, and production was initially delayed in an effort to find the right resources. I appreciate that ethics and values are incorporated into the jewellery- it gives more meaning to the collection.
La Maison Couture: You’ve designed shoes, clutches and handbags in the past, as a consumer, what has your relationship with Jewellery been throughout your life?
Fiona Kotur: I have always championed individuality and self-expression, and I think accessories lend themselves to that. I started collecting bags and vintage jewellery with my baby sitting money as a teenager… I love pieces with a history, things that are bold and engaging. And I still have everything I have ever bought- I embrace the opposite of a ‘throw-away’ mentality- when I buy something it’s usually for life…
La Maison Couture: What inspired you to move into Jewellery designing and did the medium provide any challenges that you hadn’t anticipated? Is there a different kind of focus required?
Fiona Kotur: I have designed jewellery in the past, and every different product possesses its own challenges, expectations and opportunities. I would say the practical nature, as well as the decorative one, requires the most focus, but creativity thrives on parameters!
La Maison Couture: Does jewellery differ as a sartorial means of expression?
Fiona Kotur: Yes in that clothing is best expressed through fit. The decorative and surface of clothing as secondary to drape and its relationship to the body. I see jewellery as having a different relationship. I tend to view jewellery as pieces of sculpture, and as having special qualities, be they sentimental or ceremonial. Jewellery exists as its own means of expression- it is independent and, unlike clothing does not solely rely on a body to make its statement. I love jewellery for that reason, I think it gives the wearer strength and confidence.
La Maison Couture: What has it been like working with a brand like Swarovski? Was it different to working on lines for your own brand?
Fiona Kotur: Collaborating with Swarovski has been a wonderful experience. The process was seamless as we shared the same values and were like-minded in what we wanted to express through the jewellery. As much as I love designing my own collection, I really do enjoy the collaborative process, of discussing and sharing ideas and evolving them together. Great partnerships elevate your thinking and push you in new directions, which is exciting.
La Maison Couture: Did your move to Hong Kong affect the work you create? Did you have to compromise at all or did the change allow you a sense of freedom?
Fiona Kotur: The move to Hong Kong definitely affected the way I source materials. Living in Asia with proximity to interesting textures and craftsmen gave me the chance to travel and dig into resources that are otherwise hard to access. For example, in our Spring/Summer minaudiere collection, we have used the craft of cloisonne to embellish the bags- the cloisonnee is made by laying down thin wire on the surface and painting the surface with small coloured beads that blend to create an image. This is an ancient Chinese technique and the panels are created in an artist village in China. It’s very specialized work and I love that we can resurrect a decorative tradition. In the past, I also worked with the T’boli tribe in the Philippines using their traditional woven Tinalak textures in custom colours for our collection. It has been wonderful to explore and discover, and has certainly influenced my work in a positive way.
La Maison Couture: Is it true that you like to salvage second hand or antique pieces as prototypes for Kotur designs? How important is heritage to you and in your work?
Fiona Kotur: Finding great vintage pieces is part of the adventure, and I am constantly inspired by things I find from the past. Heritage can be an important part, but usually it’s the unique detail of a well-made piece that I adore. I do incorporate aspects like hardware: buckles, chains, metal closures, as prototypes for designs, but really I just love hunting around for a surprise. Usually patience pays off!
La Maison Couture: You are frequently praised for being a successful businesswoman alongside raising four children? How do you balance your career and home life and what are the benefits or challenges of being a working Mum in Hong Kong.
La Maison Couture: Thank you for the compliment, but I am not a perfect juggler and many many things fall through the cracks in my life! I think balance is just a matter of prioritising on a daily basis… always reminding yourself of what’s most important and putting that first. Of course, my boys are always first, but there are times one has to miss a game or performance and not lose sleep over it, and I always discuss with them in advance if I will miss something. I am fortunate to have great support, at home and work, and a very hands-on husband… it really does take a village, whether your village is Hong Kong or London…
Daywear or Evening? Evening because I think there is more creativity and playfulness in evening clothes- evening wear encourages exaggeration and fun. There is a practicality to daywear that disappears at sunset…
Vintage or New? For me, vintage usually wins, especially those things that are quirky and well preserved.
Heels or Flats? I am a lover of heels, as long as I can run around in them.
London or New York? I appreciate and adore London and New York, and have lived in both cities, so it’s impossible to pick one. Also, I am half Brit and half American, so I truly have dual loyalty!