Shop Talk: Fairy Tale-Like Jewelry
Plus, men's work wear that works in the colder months
Mindy Lam fashions wire, crystals and gems into fanciful items, including wedding bouquets and bracelets. Photos by Edgar Artiga
For 15 years, Rockville-based, Hong Kong-born designer Mindy Lam has been making dramatic, fairy tale-like jewelry from silver wire, Swarovski crystals and precious and semiprecious gems. Now, 49-year-old Lam—whose brooches ($140 and up), earrings ($98 and up) and dramatic cuffs ($450 and up) are sold on her ecommerce site (mindylamcouture.com) and at Georgetown’s Keith Lipert Gallery (2922 M St. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-965-9736)—is expanding into wedding and special event decorations. We checked in recently with Lam.
What’s it like working in high-end fashion design in Montgomery County? A lot of people think that to succeed in fashion you have to live in New York or California. But I believe that if I try hard, then I can be successful no matter where I am.
Your jewelry is so fanciful and lush. What inspires it? I was born in Hong Kong and grew up on a farm, surrounded by flowers. So that impacts my work, and so did an early fascination with Chinese opera. Troupes would come to my small town, and their costumes were full of shiny things and treasure. I also rework clients’ vintage jewelry, taking sentimental heirlooms out of the jewelry box and making them modern and wearable. I’ll incorporate tiny animals, jeweled leaves and more.
Many of your pieces look like lace, but they’re actually metal. How does that work? I’ve got techniques that are almost like needlepoint or weaving that make these very flexible forms. Add precious stones and other materials and you have a big statement.
Who wears your pieces? I think they are ripe for women who go to galas and balls, but there’s also something nice about one of my necklaces with a crisp white shirt and jeans.
You also do items for weddings and special events. What are they like? I’ve done crystal flower bouquets for brides, metal lace, and jeweled and crystal garlands. The bouquets are wonderful because they allow brides to save a memory from that magical day.
Courtesy of Ministry
Work Wear That Works
What if the trousers and shirts you wore to work could be as high-tech and functional as your favorite yoga pants or your beloved wicking running jacket? That’s the idea behind Ministry, a clothing company that opened a store in downtown Bethesda in October—its first outpost in Maryland.
“I grew up geeking out on Patagonia jackets and wearing Nike Dri-FIT,” says CEO Aman Advani, who founded the Boston-based company in 2012 with two classmates from MIT, Gihan Amarasiriwardena and Kit Hickey. “So it seemed natural to expect the same performance in my work clothes as what I’d put on for the gym.”
The resulting men’s (and recently launched women’s) clothing features washable, wicking, stretchy fabrics, tailored in work-ready styles such as guys’ blazers ($350-$450) and checkered dress shirts ($95) or women’s silky blouses ($85) and skinny-leg pants ($140). “The idea is that we build these pieces for movement on extreme days—long bicycle commutes, sleeves that move the way your arms do when you stand,” Advani says.
Pieces are sold in a minimalist, gallery-like space with cement floors, Eames chairs and art books propped on linear shelving. It’s all very pared-down and user friendly, much like the brand itself. “We don’t do crazy accent pieces,” Advani says. “We make the basics you reach for in the morning, the things that make it easy to build your wardrobe. We don’t want you to worry about ironing a shirt.”
4823 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 240-630-8840, www.ministry.co
Bundled in Style
Guys have lots of options for staying warm—and stylish—in the colder months. Here are a few of our favorites.
A far-from-grandfatherly Donegal wool sweater combats the chill and looks cool over a plaid button-down. $198, J.Crew, Chevy Chase, D.C., and Westfield Montgomery mall, jcrew.com