Barry Kieselstein-Cord has been a household name for decades in the art and fashion worlds. Now, after a six-year sabbatical, his Kieselstein-Cord brand has been reinvigorated with a fresh perspective, new collections and a gallery which doubles as a retail space in his hometown, Millbrook, New York. The site is the first of 15 planned capsule locations that will sell fine and sterling jewelry, bronzes, handbags, belts and buckles, as well as his own photographic prints.
A trained fine artist with a business background in media and retail, Cord thoughtfully designs each piece as a bold, unique object of wearable art. Over the years, the Coty and CFDA award-winning creative has gained an immense following, and his pieces have been collected by personalities including Anne Bass, Diana Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker and Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, to name a few. A number of his creations are displayed in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre.
So why did his prior 40 retail operations briefly turn towards e-commerce, and why is now an ideal time to make a comeback with a brick-and-mortar space? “I took time to travel and reorganize my brand platform to build on it from a different perspective that is much more global,” says Cord, who never stopped designing. “It’s a continuation of many designs, incorporating new interpretations.” In his archives, there are thousands of designs, including many examples of his signature alligator motif belt buckles and other goods. The idea was sparked from a childhood pet alligator named Hubert, which he received from his parents.
Although jewelry is only one segment of the vast brand, it is Cord’s foundation. An entirely new category from Kieselstein-Cord is a cultured pearl collection, which includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings. “We’re living in a world where oceans are getting more and more polluted. Pearls are potentially a disappearing commodity; I did many historical studies and found that I could be excited about working with this material,” says Cord. “It’s an opportunity to express thoughts I had for some time but have not been able to employ.”
Like everything in the brand, the pieces remain true Cord’s mission to look unlike anything else. “The majority of pieces are inspired by nature and involve intellectual double and triple entendres, often poking fun, but at the same time provoking deep thought,” he says. “They each have their own distinct personality. If you want to make a statement, you wear Kieselstein-Cord.”