Meet the Creative Visionary : Vanessa Louise Marie Arthur
In late 2015, VLM Jewelry was created by Vanessa Louise Marie Arthur in Southern California. Already an established clothing designer in Los Angeles’ fashion industry, having worked with many of the city’s well-known elite, Arthur embarked on fulfilling her dream.
It seemed pre-ordained that Arthur’s calling would be working in metalsmithing, with an interior designer for a mother and a tool-and-die maker as a father. In the beginning, however, it was all fabric. While attending Syracuse University in her junior year, Arthur traveled to Paris and London, interning as the assistant to noted British designer Tracey Boyd. It was abroad where she saw master European tailoring up close.
After completing her studies, graduating magna cum laude, the budding designer began an apprenticeship at Ralph Lauren’s high-end menswear Purple Label in New York City. Arthur says of her experience, “It was grunt work. Running errands. However, I was exposed to a lot of big meetings and decision making. It was an amazing introduction to the New York’s clothing business.”
Arthur knew that she didn’t want to work in the Big Apple’s fashion circle. Growing up on the East Coast she wanted a different adventure, and like many unknowns that came before her to conquer the artistic world, she settled on Los Angeles. Swimming pools. Movie stars. Her first West Coast style jobs were stints with Australian-born Richard Tyler, famous for dressing the entertainment glitterati and a contemporary line for the LA-based but global label American Rag.
At the end of 2003, Arthur began working with internationally known BCBG Max Azria, saying, “I landed my dream job.” Over the following two and a half years, Arthur was an associate designer and then promoted to designer for the ready-to-wear division, working directly with the Chief Creative Officer, Lubov Azria.
Before too long, Southern California contemporary women’s wear designer Trina Turk came knocking on Arthur’s door and over the next eight years, Arthur worked as her in-house designer. While working with Turk, Arthur become exposed to the American Mid-Century modern aesthetic. “I completely fell in love with the look,” she states. “I adopted the forms using its clean lines and bold shapes to design entire collections from head to toe including the jewelry. It was reflected in my design illustrations.” Previously, while working at BCBG, she had advanced her creative outlet with metalsmithing classes at Otis College of Art & Design. She continued the process while at Turk. Through her work and scholastic research, Arthur became enamored with mid-century modern sculptors and artists such as Art Smith, Jack Boyd and Claire Falkenstein. “Their work is intoxicating,” states Arthur. “I find their forms speaking to me on a creative and visceral level. They ultimately have a profound influence in how I approach my designs.”
Arthur decided to leave Turk – a full-time job -- and embarked on VLM Jewelry. With an entrepreneurial spirit, she crafted her first collection of delicately hand-forged pieces. “I don’t want it to look retro but I think there is something beautiful about the way past designers used that artisanal hammered technique,” says Arthur. “There is a continuous flow. It’s not chopped up. I’m obsessed with the art form of crafting in this manner.”
Arthur’s mixed metal adornments can be found on-line and at Margaret O’Leary throughout Southern California and West Elm. She can also be found at select retail pop-ups wherever fashionable and high-end artistic pieces are sold.
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Arthur, a one time violinist and singer, is on a mission to spread a larger message through her work as an artist, designer and jeweler. She believes Art, Music & Design transcend gender, race and creed. These outlets for creativity are universal forces that have the power to bring mankind together. The HARMONY COLLECTION was inspired by her love for music and mid century design. Arthur believes her purpose as a creative being is to use her gifts to spread harmony throughout the world with great design. Harmony and togetherness are important themes in her life and she seeks to partner with and give back to organizations that foster music education.