My recent trip to Atlanta for the W Hotels Buckhead/CFDA: Fashion Incubator presentation was such a whirlwind that it took me a week to recover! It was AMAZING to chat with the featured designers, and I spoke with jewelry designer Emanuela Duca. Duca, a native of Rome (Italy, not Georgia), insists on retaining a crucial connection with her pieces. Working primarily with sterling silver, she infuses her scupltural, delicate-yet-strong pieces with emotion and textural elements reminiscient of her homeland’s volcanic ash. This was her first visit to Atlanta, and she expressed that she considered the most valuable aspect of the Fashion Incubator (FI) to be the exposure it provides designers to retailers, editors and the opportunity to be participate in events like the one we attended.
Who do you design for? The woman who wants to…wear a piece of jewelry is a statement. A woman that can go out there in the world and get what she needs and to say, “You know, I’m in a place in my life and I need to be who I want to be be.”
What emotion do you wish to convey in your work? I believe I design for a woman that has so much to offer – not necessarily just someone who goes out there to get what she wants but also someone that is not afraid to be a woman, to be feminine. So there is a contrast between soft and hard. Even in the color, the black and the white, [there’s] a very strong element of contrast. We as [women], we have so much to give and it is not just the image, it’s much, much richer than that and that’s what I try to express in my work.
How do you know when a piece is finished? I just feel it. You know sometimes I’m not happy and I have to put it away for a while. Then all of a sudden it just clicks and then it’s “Oh okay, now I know what it needs,” and then it’s finished.
How do you use the FI’s workspace? Oh, I use it completely. It’s divided in two main areas: one is a gallery and where I invite my retailers to come over to view the collection. The other one is really like a workshop where I develop my design. I do have my hands on the product. I develop the first design and then that gets sent outside for production, but I am the one who creates everything. You know, I feel like when I have the material in my hand I can do something that would be very difficult to explain to somebody else. And lot of the creative process happens through working with the material -how [can] I explain that to someone else? Just touching the material, I create a shape.
How do you let go of the art you’re creating? You know, it’s been several years, and I’ve learned that there is always something next to come. That way I’m capable of letting go.
What’s your impression of Southern style? It’s really great. I find that the women wear these beautiful lines, you know…they’re very elegant and they’re also interested in trends…they’re very interested in what’s [to come] in the market. They came here today very curious to learn about us and I love it.
If you weren’t designing…?: I would be a dancer. Actually…I would probably be a choreographer. I did study dance, and I got into my life and then I realized that I was so interested in movement, not necessarily in dancing myself, but to coordinate the shape. So I do that today in my metal work.
What would people be surprised to know about you? Wow. That’s a tough one [laughs]. You know, I am someone that comes from Rome – from Italy – and had to adjust to a different culture. I mean, the Italian one is not that different from the American one. But I didn’t speak any English when I came to the United States. And I went through such a challenge, such a struggle. You know, [a] long time ago I used to say if someone ever asked me if I’d do that again I would probably say “No.” Today, I would say definitely I would do every single thing [the same way].
Duca is looking forward to “creating a fashion jewelry collection…to be launched sometime at the beginning of the new year. I’m working very hard to get that done. So a different price point, different material, still statement [pieces], but different.” Check out her pieces HERE.
Images via Moses Robinson, Pouya Dianat, Ben Rose/Getty Images