Not just anyone can pull off the glass bubble bodysuit Los Angeles designer Michael Schmidt made for Lady Gaga to wear on a 2009 cover of Rolling Stone or the Lego dress he whipped up for Fergie to wear onstage at the 2011 Kids Choice Awards.
But Schmidt's new line of jewelry lets all women explore their inner rock goddesses. Consider an elegantly draped metal mesh cuff, without seams or a clasp, that rolls onto the wrist effortlessly. A crystal rope infinity knot necklace. A hairy goat fur cuff with spikes.
"I like to work with materials that are typically hostile, like metal, glass, plastic and wood, and try to render them wearable, even sensual — to give them a visually tactile quality," says Schmidt, who is a wardrobe go-to for artists such as Rihanna, Cher, Madonna and Steven Tyler because of his ability to fulfill strange requests.
Schmidt is no stranger to designing jewelry, having worked with Chrome Hearts on an exclusive line of jewelry and handbags since 2001. But for this collection, he wanted to fly solo.
"I've worked with so many entertainers over the years," says Schmidt, whose studio is in Echo Park. "I wanted to do something that was available to the public that touched on the work I had done before, but was mine and mine alone."
Many of the materials are the same ones he has been using in his custom work for years.
"As easy as it might look, the process is quite laborious," he says of making the jewelry. "It requires the use of special tools. The crystal mesh, for example. Each crystal has four prongs, and you have to prop open each prong and relink them with other shapes."
Eventually, Schmidt plans to add sterling silver mesh, diamonds and semiprecious stones to the mix. He hopes to keep distribution small but to grow the collection to include bags, tops and dresses.
Michael Schmidt jewelry, $350 to $4,800, is available at Maxfield in Los Angeles and Gold Bug in Pasadena.