Tom Binns’ Tough Talk Collection

Tom Binns Tough Talk Jewelry Collection
Tom Binns Design S/S 2012 Tough Talk collection


Perhaps best known for tweaking tradition with his irreverent, tongue-in-cheek jewelry designs, Los Angeles-based Tom Binns presents his own take on the statement piece with his Tough Talk collection for Spring/Summer 2012, mixing his playfully irreverent wit with classic technique.

“Value is not what they say it is—it’s what you feel it is.”

The Tough Talk collection combines elegance with anti-conformist flair. Decadently arranged crystal necklaces and bracelets are emblazoned with the words “Punk,” “Rocker” and “Nice,” in hand-painted, vibrant neon colors.

The overall sense is one of royalty, decadence and revolution. And if the Punk necklace seems oddly familiar, you’re right: It actually first appeared in Vogue’s Fashion Rocks supplement in 2007, adorning Billie Holiday, one o Bruce Weber’s beloved golden Labradors. However, it is the first time the necklace is available for purchase.

Hand-painting crystals in neon colors or adding safety pins to hold strands of pearls together, Binns creates looks that are fresh and layered. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Binns moved in his 20s to London, where he went to art school while working with Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren on pirate-themed jewelry for the duo’s New Romantic collection. Throughout the ’90s, Binns created handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces incorporating items such as sea glass and safety pins.

Tom Binns Tough Talk Jewelry collection

Tom Binns Design S/S 2012 Tough Talk collection

Binns’ first complete collection was made solely of rubber. He cites the Dada movement and early-20th-century concepts of irrationality and rebellion as constant inspiration. In 2009, he told the L.A. Times, “It’s actually the integrity that’s precious, not the material. Value is not what they say it is—it’s what you feel it is.”

Taking this sentiment literally, that same year Binns designed Faux Real, a collection made of laminated magazine photographs reassembled into rings, necklaces, cuffs and watches. He also unofficially became known as the “First Jeweler” after Michelle Obama began wearing his designs.

But it’s not just the First Lady who is a fan: Binns boasts an impressive celebrity clientele, from pop stars Britney Spears, Rihanna and Lady Gaga to Hollywood’s A-listers such as Cate Blanchett and Julia Roberts.

Tom Binns Michelle Obama Julia Roberts Rihanna

Left: Michelle Obama wears Tom Binns Design Pearls in Peril necklace, 2012. Center: Julia Roberts wears Tom Binns Design, Grande Dame Noir Necklace, 2011. Right: Rihanna wears custom Tom Binns Design lingerie for Loud Tour 2011.

This year, Binns also marked his first designer collaboration in more than a decade, since teaming up with Narciso Rodriguez in 2000. For American designer Jason Wu’s Spring 2012 runway presentation, Binns created a series of waterfall drop-chain earrings embellished with his signature pearls, crystals, safety pins and zips.

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  1. great write-up on one of the most interesting jewlery designers working today – great work Amanda

    David May 11 / 7:04 pm

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  3. Thanks so much Amanda! Love having you as a contributor.

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