Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chris Habana SS 2009

Chris Habana came to my attention long, long ago when I was reading Style Rookie. I was totally oblivious at the time, but it was the start of some sort of new, crazy fangirl obsession that would take months to manifest. In a portrait taken in her hometown of Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois; Tavi Gevinson smiles while wearing two flower crowns and a glass eye/ pink-crystal statement necklace in an outfit inspired by the weird, pastel tackiness of Los Angeles. I always loved that necklace, but at the time I assumed it to be the work of goth jewellery goddesses like Pamela Love or Delfina Delettrez. And I didn't investigate it or give it a second thought. But within the last week I have felt anxious and inquisitive, wanting to seek out the nostalgic photographs of old that inspired me to blog two years ago. So I wanted to reread and investigate the matter further. And boy, am I glad and blown away by the secret universe I found through my computer screen. 

The mystery dream piece I'm talking about was designed by Chris Habana and can I just say, this guy is prolific on sooo many levels. He makes creates and crafts a collection as good as or better than professional clothing designers for each new season and has been active since 2008, which makes me feel nostalgic over Style Rookie all over again *crying*. There's a unique theme or motif embodied in each collection of jewellery, but an unmistakable presence of Habana's own being in each new release. In celebration of warmer weather I wanted to discuss Chris Habana's campaign for Summer/Spring of 2009: and ode to palm tree boardwalks, skate ramps, gothic surf punk, novel neon colours and religion. While it does not contain my fantasy necklace there's a great range of technique, good luck charms and I was completely won over with the photography.

The use of colour was artfully constrained in a less is more approach, but when metal was splashed in enamel it seemed to imitate bleached-stained clothing or overly tacky die dye. These cross necklaces were in a league of their own though. It seems like, they could be made by any hopelessly romantic school girl or girl scout during the heat of Summer camp given enough time and craft supplies of embroidery thread and shredded material. And yet, when you look closer there's a world of careful geometry or just precise pattern making that yields something vibrant but organised. The interwoven metal links, spikes and charms are a professional touch to what would otherwise be a simple design reminiscent of every hardware store bungee chord that ever existed, and I'm glad there's small hints of intricacy and detail to explore in these pieces. They're not like common pieces of jewellery found at the stall of every Sunday market stall but have different dimensions to them up close. And that shimmer and sense of wonder can be felt in everything that is good- whether it's a music video, or book, or fictional character. I spend my time hunting for that elusive charm in inanimate objects and maybe that is weird but that shouldn't discount its importance.

As an Australian, I have encountered many shark tooth, surfboard and general beach aesthetic necklaces at every marketplace, jewellery stall in the mall and around the necks' of adolescents on the street. They've always quietly been in the background; like static to an old TV and generally white-washing everything it touches and lending their cliche touch to my entire world. And it was never really a scene I got into or celebrated either. But I can now safely say that with the addition of  severed fingers and fish hooks I can now enjoy what was a tired backdrop of ocean scenery in a more gory and graphic way- catering to my own sense of dark whimsy. That sounds bleak, but I think for a colour as vibrant and happy as orange; you know, Pina Colados on the beach, getting caught in the rain etc. dark reinvention is kind of a welcome contrast against the bright glean of black gun metal finished pendants and charms. And who's to say you can't enjoy both Pina Colados with Chris Habana jewellery? It's pretty unlikely but hey it could be a fun angle to work over for a new campaign or whatever.

While it seems just about every underground prog designer (Chronicles of Never, Nick Von K, Turn Me on Design, Deadly Ponies... need I go on?) has tried to reinvent the classic motifs of crosses, skulls and bones I really like the oil slick sheen finish of Chris Habana. I've also had a recent fetish for cool earrings finally realising I can exploit my tiny ear lobes as prime slices of fashion real estate when it comes to preciously coiled or crafted dangling decorations. That may sound a little wrong but I now find it fun to wear pretty earrings, rather than laborsome to go through the effort of changing from one pair to another. I also spent perhaps one hundred dollars on earrings in the last month so... that might be why. BUT I'M IN THE MOOD TO GIVE MORE OF MY CASH AWAY. Well not give, it's more like an exchange. You make me look cool and I give you my money. Yeah alright. Those crucifix earrings are to die for though, just because I love collecting little silver crosses when I need to feel closer to embodying The Virgin Suicides tragedy mystique or spiritually intense. Typically I am attracted to patterns, prints and my jewellery has to include some sort of motif or good luck charm. That's just how I operate, it's how I've always operated and I am a sucker for the Chris Habana niche market. And I like it.

*photographs by Chris Habana, styling by Erickson Liongson, models: Joel and Leah.
** I know the format is ugly- shut up.

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