Saturday, March 13, 2010


Founded 140 years ago, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (a/k/a The Met) holds an impressive array of over two million pieces of artwork from Africa, Europe, and Asia. New York is also the current home of featured jewelry designer Justin Giunta.

"The first piece of jewelry I ever made was a bracelet for a friend's birthday," says Giunta. "It was a bracelet fashioned with gun charms!"

Originally, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the painter and jewelry designer studied at New York's Pratt Institute, Amsterdam's Gerrit Rietveld Academy, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pennsylvia's Carnegie-Mellon University. His studies would ultimately influence a more daring and sophisticated aesthetic.

Established in 2003, his company, Subversive Jewelry, is true to its rebellious moniker. His avant-garde collections feature items of bold configurations with loads of tangled, recycled antique brass chains, chunky Swarovski crystals, beads, and faux pearls. These components not only promote a gritty type of vintage aesthetic, but also help to maintain the environment's integrity.

"I am always drawing parallels between art history and modern design in my work. I explore themes of fine art and commercial design. The only difference between the two seems to be where you sell it," says the artist.

In some ways, the baroque style of his collections with their visually powerful scope laced with a provocative touch of rock n' roll, reminds me of the bold creations of DANNIJO designing duo Danielle and Jodie Snyder.

Giunta builds his designs based on excess arranging the materials in a free form. I initially found the ultimate renderings shocking as they are not beautiful in a conventional sense, but I was still drawn to their glorious excessiveness.

"I lay out the materials in much the same way I do when I paint," Giunta explains. "I draw together disparate elements of color and texture ensuring that every scrap lands appropriately into the composition."

Items from his Sunken Treasure Collection splendidly recreates a trove of gnarled and tangled muted chains with strategically placed oversized, rough-cut crystals, faux pearls, and gold beads.

His Caulders Circus Collection boasts literal explosions of vibrant and ethereal color such as the Spanish Goth Necklace, a beautiful link of floral cameos, while the cut of some of the bone beads and crystals from the Rain Forest Collections is reminiscent of tribal garb.

"I design each piece of jewelry within the context of the baroque philosophy that more is more, and the modern idea of deconstruction in fashion," he says. "As an artist, I naturally deconstruct fashion blending the past and the present to create my own visual language."

In the last several years, Giunta has collaborated with fashion designers J. Mendel, DKNY, Alexander Wang, and Perris Ellis providing Subversive Jewelry for their runway shows.

His striking jewelry has also been featured in editorial layouts for such publications as Glamour, O Magazine, Spin, and Harper's Bazaar.

In 2009, Giunta became a first-time recipient of the CFDA Fashion Award. For more on Giunta's cutting-edge designs, check out Full Frontal Fashion's video interview with the designer.
Photo 1 (top right): Sunken Treasure Necklace with Antique Chains, Faux Pearls, and Charms
Photo 2 (bottom left): Spanish Goth Necklace with Vintage Cameos Mounted on Antique Chain
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