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Tom Binns: Jewel of the Emerald Isle

Tom Binns is the famous designer behind many of the beautiful baubles First Lady Michelle Obama dons on a regular basis.  Our editors thought it made sense to feature this Irish designer in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.  Binns was born in Belfast, Ireland (the ancestral hometown of our editors, which only endears him to them further), and has been living in Venice Beach, CA for the past few years.  He graduated from Middlesex Polytechnic in 1981 with a degree in jewelry design, and got his start during the “Punk Era” in London.  Binns was influenced by the Dada Movement, and is now considered the pioneer of the “junk-jewelry.”  Aka, he’s an alchemist – he makes garbage into gems.  The low-key designer seems to be making fun of high-priced accessories as often as he… well, makes high-priced accessories.  In his early days, Binns made pirate jewelry for Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s “new romantic” clothing lines, and his love of skulls stayed with him, as he’s made the unusual shape pretty popular with his famous rings.  In 1981, he created his first collection, made entirely of rubber – and his rubber fish bracelets became quite a hit.  He eventually went on to work with other offbeat materials, such as safety pins and nails, as well as beach glass and driftwood for his collaboration with Calvin Klein.  Binns won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Accessory Designer of the Year Award in 2006.  Binns’ most notable fan is the current First Lady.  Michelle Obama has been seen wearing his creations at a party thrown for her by notorious Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, and above at a White House gala.  Binns went on to open his first store in New York in 2009.  Last year, Binns collaborated with Disney Couture for the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to make Lewis Carroll-esque pieces.  (One of theSkinnyStiletto‘s favorite style inspirations).  Prices ranged from $100 to $1,500.  The resulting mismatched hearts, teapots, rabbits, and keyholes cemented the idea that the quirky tale was a perfect match for the quirky designer.  Tom Binns is something quite rare in the jewelry industry – original.  It’s no wonder other designers copy his work.  Binns’ pieces are creative, glamorous and fun, and we’re looking forward to his career in the fashion world.  That’s why theSkinnyStiletto crowns him the jewel of the Emerald Isle.

Tom Binns for Disney Couture Alice in Wonderland Necklaces

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