Richard Lambertson and John Truex, the celebrated duo behind the much-missed namesake accessories line that fell victim to the recession, are back with a new collection of leather goods for Tiffany & Co. and they spoke with Globe Style recently about their much-anticipated comeback, how inspiring jewellery can be and the importance of observing the people they create for.
Your business, Lambertson Truex, closed up shop in 2009. How did you decide what to do afterward?
John Truex: We love accessories. It's fun and we have fun doing it. I think that's seen in our work. Other companies appreciate our commitment and I think our clients appreciate it, too. This isn't our job; it's our life. It's something we're very proud of.
How did you come to forge a relationship with Tiffany & Co.?
Richard Lambertson: We were in talks with Tiffany about doing a collection with them about a year or two prior to [shutting down] When the economy [started to falter] talks got pushed aside. But when our backers backed out, it was suddenly the perfect storm: Tiffany came back to us [with a purchase offer] They loved our aesthetic. It has all worked out wonderfully.
Your collection for Tiffany is inspired by the company's jewellery. Bracelet and necklace designs have been used as straps for evening bags; brooches function as clasps. Was the connection an easy one to make?
JT: On the Camille bag is a vintage brooch from the twenties – not an exact replica, but the same scheme and sensibility, with Austrian crystals on a brass plate with goldplated hardware. Another bag has a chain inspired by a necklace. It all reminds me of my grandmother. In the sixties, when accessories were important, she would go to church with her earrings and handbags. Hers was an accessorized world. The shoes matched the bag; the bag matched the brooch. She had jewellery boxes filled with sets. For me, designing is about the importance of memory or, in the case of Tiffany, the importance of tradition.
You also design for men. What's hot in that department right now?
JT: Colour. Boys are diving into colour – purple, for instance. We've put it in the linings [of the leather goods] When they pull a wallet out of their back pockets and open it, that element of surprise makes them smile or brings back a memory.
You spent a lot of time just hanging out in stores before designing the Tiffany line, watching. What did you see and conclude?
JT: First, there are three generations of consumers often shopping [there]all at once: The granddaughter comes in to pick up her Tiffany-blue handbag or keychain, her mom comes in to buy a great bag for day and the mom's mom comes in to pick up an evening bag for a wedding.
And they're all shopping together, which is wonderful. It's fun seeing it happen. Another thing we observed is that the 21st century is a very different world from what came before. Tiffany's customers don't dress how I thought they might dress when going out to shop. They're casual, wearing jeans and sneakers when buying a million-dollar ring. Everyone has a different style, a different comfort zone. When designing an accessory line, you have to acknowledge that. You have to have a little bit of something for everyone, from casual everyday looks to bags for evening. A good collection is a collection that's a result of talking to the client – what does she need, desire, love? – and letting that inspire you.
What's on the horizon, trendwise, for spring?
RL: Navy blue and white and, of course, Tiffany blue.
JT: That palette always puts a smile on your face.
This interview has been edited and condensed.