Claudia Chan Shaw is a designer, author, presenter and artist. Aside from curating and organizing the traveling show for Vivian Chan Shaw, 40 Years/ A Retrospective, Claudia spends her time doing her “real” job as a designer and talking on collecting at next week’s Sydney Writer’s Festival.
How do you define style?
Individuality. Style is a confident expression of self. A stylish individual stands out from the crowd.
Describe your own style.
I adore the elegance of the 1920s. I wear my hair in a short bob and love red lipstick. I’m always out and about in long, flowing garments. I’m not a girly girl. No pastels or short skirts for me! I love black punctuated with colour.
Do you believe that a woman’s style can be defined by her jewellery?
It can. I feel naked without my long earrings!
What sort of jewellery pieces do you gravitate to?
I like bold pieces. My taste is quite eclectic. I love both contemporary and art deco. Sleek silver designs, geometrics, natural stones, Bakelite. I like my watch to be an interesting piece too.
Describe the sort of jewellery you wear most frequently? Do you have a favourite piece?
Long necklaces are a favourite in beautiful natural stones like jade, jasper, smoky quartz, onyx. It helps that our fashion label, Vivian Chan Shaw, creates hand made jewellery, so I have a lot to choose from! My favourite piece is a long necklace in rich red carved cinnabar with French jet and a long Chinese silk knot tassel.
What would be your “in a perfect world” or “dream” piece of jewellery?
I’d love more vintage pieces. Stacks of carved Bakelite bangles would be wonderful, plus the Holy Grail would be an original Auguste Bonaz Art Deco necklace made from Galalith. They are rare!
Who has influenced you most when it comes to the sort of jewellery you choose?
My mother and business partner, designer Vivian Chan Shaw, was a big influence when I was younger. She introduced me to beautiful pieces and I developed an interest in design and art movements, which influenced jewellery design and fashion.
Did you often raid your mother’s jewellery box when you were younger?
I always looked! Mum had amazing pieces. She designed an articulated bicycle chain bracelet made from gold and a crystal opal she had cut into the shape of an aubergine. Her pieces were always unusual and distinctive. Never small!
For budding jewellery collectors, what style or period would you recommend? What do you see will be big in the future?
There is always a healthy interest in Art Deco jewellery. Designs from this period are timeless and still look modern. As the years go by they become more expensive and harder to source. The attention devoted by fashion magazines and stylists to Vintage jewellery made from Bakelite, Galalith, celluloid, and other early plastics have made these pieces desirable to a wider group. Design classics by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany or sleek silver pieces from Georg Jensen are winners. I covet the Georg Jensen Vivianna bracelet watch. Released in 1969, the design is still absolutely timeless.
Claudia Chan Shaw is talking about her book Collectomania, From Objects of Desire to Magnificent Obsession at Sydney Writer’s Festival – May 24, 1-2pm at The Mint.