Totems and talismans celebrate life in earthy tones
How Pichulik's winter designs are helping to stave off the drought
On Tuesday I went to a showing of the new winter collection by Pichulik, one of South Africa’s best loved designer jewellery ranges. Every season, creator Katherine Mary Pichulik, designs a collection based around a particular theme. This season’s collection is called Talisman for Rain.
“While driving through the Cederberg I was amazed by the abundance of green and the way nature expresses itself in such subtle hues,” says the designer of the inspiration behind this fall/winter 2018 collection of her iconic rope-based jewellery and clothing inspired by the accessories.
“Even in areas where it hadn’t rained, I noticed that some indigenous plants survived while others did not. But where there was life, it was green.”
The dominant colours of the collections therefore are earthy tones, whether it’s the Amazon and fern greens of the hand-woven knits and beadwork used by designer Nadya von Stein for #NadyabyPichulik FW18, or the smooth, green malachite, darker mottled green serpentine, or the two-toned green Transvaal jade used by Pichulik in the jewellery.“I wanted to create pieces that double as totems and talismans,” she says. “Totems because they define a tribe or social group and are artifacts that bind certain people together, and talismans because they are imbued with the power to bring something about or ward something off. I wanted the pieces to have an ancient, sacred feel,” she adds of the design process.
Because totems are assembled of elements that carry spiritual reverence or depict family legends, sacred beings and culturally significant animals, people or historical events, the fall/winter 2018 earrings and necklaces such as Earth Mother mimic this.
The team worked with layers of jade and cattle horn, both of which symbolise Earth in Celtic cultures. The simple, voluptuous Erzulie pendant and earrings take their name from Erzulie, the Haitian goddess of love, who shares a name with the Yaruban river goddess.Similarly, Pichulik’s Mama Wata earrings take their cue (and name) from the water spirit Mama Wata (Mother Water), who is celebrated through much of Africa.
The collection features Pichulik’s trademark yacht rope to which the team has added real and faux malachite, serpentine, red jasper, freshwater pearls, Transvaal jade and brass. It brings together the two distinct styles that have emerged in Pichulik’s work over the past three seasons: the heavy, hand-beaded designs of the Habibi collection and the pared-down geometric shapes as seen in the Harvest collection.
“We have begun to define and refine our ranges to offer a premium seasonal collection while continually updating the Ndebele and Classics ranges that embody Pichulik’s origins,” says Pichulik.“The Talisman for Rain collection, like all our work, is first and foremost a celebration of handcraft and all items go through two workshops before they are complete, from casting the wax moulds for components to hand-wrapping them."
It also introduces the brand's new disc rings designed to be stacked with any Pichulik ring to create a strong, personalised hand adornment.
True to the brand DNA, Talisman is inspired by and created for strong women, a message that is brought across by You Are Enough, the slogan that has become part of every new Pichulik collection.
“As women, our greatest shortcoming is the belief that we are not enough. Everything in our lives is determined by this and I want our jewellery to remind women that they are enough; that being worthy does not stem from something superficial and cosmetic but is woven into our souls. It is something no one can take away from us,” she says.
For winter, designer Nadya von Stein has echoed Pichulik’s greens in the hand-woven knits and beadwork of her garments.
#PichulikbyNadya’s commitment to sustainable design is all the more significant with this collection’s focus on water. The predominant fabric is, as before, hemp, a plant that is far less thirsty than conventional crops used to make fibre.Their winter suit is made from knitted organic hemp melange and the high-waisted trousers and matching jersey top and jacket incorporate Pichulik’s half-moon cut-out.
A standout new piece is the organic hemp stretch T-shirt emblazoned with Pichulik’s talisman for rain using a combination of gold foiling, handpainting and beading.“I wanted to create something fresh, to evoke the feeling you get when a long dry spell has been broken and the sweet, fresh, powerful smell of the earth after the first rains,” says Von Stein.
Pichulik worked with other powerful women, strong brands and creatives.
“We worked with Missibaba to create two bags in line with the totemic earrings.“We also commissioned Nabeeha Mohamed, a painter, artist and #pichulikwoman, to create a drawing which we are going to use in the storytelling together with totem illustrations by Ruschka du Toit.”Missibaba is a Cape Town-based, luxury accessory label founded by leather devotee Chloe Townsend. Dedicated to empowering women, the Missibaba family is 18 women strong.
“Our brands share a similar visual language and ethos with both offerings complementing and enhancing the beauty of all materials used. We both seek to celebrate women and the feminine, sharing this joy, love and strength through our pieces.”
Missibaba used locally sourced leather in earthy tones that embody a call for rain throughout this collection.