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When the likes of Rihanna, Zoe Kravitz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Elizabeth Banks begin wearing the instantly recognizable chokers and rings from your inaugural fine jewelry line in magazine editorials, on red carpets and in real life, it’s a big deal. That’s just what happened with AZLEE, Venice-based designer Baylee Zwart’s 10-month-old label that isn’t just beautiful and edgy, but gives back to ocean-related causes with each sale.
“I didn’t want my jewelry to start and stop in the fashion world,” she says. “I wanted to expand its significance into another realm and have impact on something that means the world to me.”
Still, the fact celebrities love it doesn’t hurt. “When Rihanna wore our signature choker, that was killer,” says the 27-year-old, whose debut collection was inspired by the idea of light, movement and energy. “She’s such an icon and to have her rocking it, it just doesn’t get much better than that.” However she also has people like style-setter Kravitz showing off fingers full of her rings via Instagram, which actually came about quite naturally, says Zwart. “I was hanging out with a friend and Zoe was being shot in his studio; we were all just hanging out after. I showed her some of my pieces and she flipped out then asked if she could wear them in Cannes.” She hasn’t stopped since.
One of the early favorites is the diamond-studded Single Burst Choker, which has become a staple piece for “cool influencer kind of girls” like Caroline Vreeland and We Wore What blogger Danielle Bernstein. “Some girls never take it off, which just makes me so happy because it really becomes a part of them. It’s so weightless you don’t even feel it on, which is the best part.”
At a time when delicate, minimal jewelry is having a moment, Zwart has found a way to make hers stand out.
“I really put all of my energy into creating pieces that are elevated, different and special for the girls who want something off the beaten path, but that’s very relevant and easy to wear. These pieces have a lot of personality and are conversation starters.” Generic is not in Zwart’s vocabulary.
Her next collection, which she spent Paris Fashion Week showing in the City of Light, is due out in the new year. Until then, the impressive credits keep rolling in for AZLEE. “I love how adventurous celebrities have become with their jewelry,” says Zwart. “I think the fashion crowd has really latched onto using jewelry to set themselves apart and make fashion more dynamic.”
As for her dream client? That would be Emma Watson. “I love what she stands for and I have so much respect for her,” says the designer. “I would be honored if she rocked my pieces.”
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