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Chris Habana is a New York City jewelry designer that I had the pleasure of meeting several years ago. We recently visited his East Village studio to see his latest works. Chris has been very busy as of recently, having just designed the runway jewelry for CFDA winner Gypsy Sport and Opening Ceremony. Chris works are heavily influenced by his goth and punk roots that effortlessly embrace clean lines and minimalistic design. We were eager to find out more about Chris, his work, his influences and inspiration.

How did you get into jewellery design?

I’ve made things since I was a kid, but I always thought I would be a clothing designer.  And while I did do clothing for a few seasons in mid 2000’s, I never cared about the idea of flattering a body. I just wanted to sketch and make digital prints and make shit out of them.  So when I realized that with jewellery, as long as I confined it to a smaller scale, I could make the piece as dynamic as I wanted it, I decided it would be something serious to think about. That was 2007/08.  I still do other projects but the jewellery is always my first.

What was the first piece you ever carved and cast?

I think it was a flat-top Grace Jones Figure Head mounted with two snakes on the sides.

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Can you tell us about your two lines CHRISHABANA and My Enemy?

The CHRISHABANA line started with goth and punk heavy roots, which is still in the brand DNA.  But we have been refining the line more and more and now it’s a very sleek and minimal, all in polished sterling silver with pearl accents. I love creating it cause it really makes me consider the ideas more, making sure to try and come out with just the simplest version of its own design.  For My Enemy, I feel like it’s a clumsy collision.  Like I jam up different themes together and come up with something really striking.  Right now, my favorite piece is this triple Hoop Bamboo Earring with Indian Bhindi and Pentagram details.  It’s just so layered.  That line is brass plated in 18K gold or gunmetal and pearls.

How did your collaboration with Opening Ceremony come about?

It was quite simple, really. We had already thankfully been carried in their shops in the U.S.  They had contacted us with the proposal of doing the collaboration, and we gladly agreed.  I felt very comfortable in the futuristic theme of their ideas and it felt really seamless.  It was a real pleasure as their team were so great on it.

How do you come up with the design for your new collections? Do you envision a theme first or a customer?

The design for me is always shifting, but  I’m not really jumping and skipping themes. It’s more like a growth or learning curve. With my collaborations, it’s sometimes easier because there’s a creative to work with, or against. For my own lines, designs can go anywhere, so I’m kind of minding myself not jump ideas. I think that tension is good for the end piece.

You have worked with some cool individuals. How did you end up working with Dia Dear?

Thanks so much. I’ve been really grateful for the people that I have worked and work with. They’re all truly amazing. As for Dia, I actually had a F/W 2014 shoot with my longtime campaign/lookbook photographer/friend Dom Smith. We were casting and the creative director for the shoot, Love Bailey suggested Dia. Both Dom and I were really moved by her in those shots. Ever since then I’ve used her in campaigns with Gentle Monster (sunglasses) and now in our recent campaign.  I truly feel like she morphs into different characters. She’s so great.

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You guys have incredible coverage in magazines, what is your secret to getting such good PR?

Hahaaha oh my god thanks so much!  That’s really nice of you to say. There’s really no secret it all just kinda happened. I think it was word of mouth or post to post or something like that. Regardless, we are happy with what we get.

What is your favourite piece you have created and why?

I mean, for real, I don’t have one.  I really enjoy and learn so much from each piece.  Even if their existence is just so that I can make a better piece from them. I think sometimes we are caught up in some sort of end result I just think the line keeps getting better the older I get.

What are your future plans as far as direction and development of your company?

Well we just came out of a really busy season with exclusive show jewellery for (CFDA winner) Gypsy Sport and Opening Ceremony, as well as some other projects so now we are onto getting the line out there to shops.  I’m really liking that the business is really becoming more known for it’s aesthetic and look and we are getting to do exciting projects that have all been fun. I’d love to keep that going.

When was the first time jewellery captivated your attention? Can you share that experience?

Oh man umm, well I guess I was into jewellery as a concept of sorts before really being captivated by an actual piece.  When I was 7 or 8 me and my brother would play Dungeons and Dragons. He would roll the dice and create the character stats, and I would design what armor and chainmail the characters would wear.  I guess i’ve always been into metal.

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