Have They Hit Their Target?

March 17th, 2008

Jew­elry col­lec­tions are sprout­ing up for spring–as are exhi­bi­tions. Please be sure to check back later this week when I review the fab­u­lous show Wiener Werk­statte Jew­elry at Neue Galerie in New York. This exhi­bi­tion will open to the pub­lic in the com­ing days. In the mean­time, the new Sub­ver­sive jew­elry line for Tar­get is now in stores. How is mega-merchant Tar­get mea­sur­ing up in terms of its “designer” jew­elry collections?

Is Tar­get, that ever-evolving uni­verse for all (ok, not all) things cool and cheap hit­ting its mark in jew­elry? Sub­ver­sive, by Justin Giunta, is cur­rently in their stores and prior to that was Dominique Cohen.

Cohen’s line seemed to be based upon the premise of wardrobe build­ing, where a piece could be pur­chased singly and later coor­di­nated with oth­ers that blend by color or style. While I like the idea, I don’t think that the price point for the jew­elry, which ranged from $15 to $60, facil­i­tated or encour­aged cus­tomers to keep buy­ing; it could get rather costly to gather as ye may.

Dominique Cohen for Target

In terms of the design aes­thetic, I am a fan of Cohen’s fine jew­elry and I often like her del­i­cate, curvi­lin­ear, some­times col­or­ful and mod­ern con­cepts. I was, how­ever, dis­ap­pointed in her choices for Tar­get. Her jew­elry has an effer­ves­cence yet the designs for Tar­get were toned and black­ened. It looked like street jew­elry that was sweet­ened with too much sugar. She is a sophis­ti­cated designer and I wish she had infused these pieces with an eye towards cre­at­ing a state­ment that wasn’t so dark Vic­to­ri­ana. Black bows and faux cameos was not the way to go.

The one piece I did love was the abalone shell neck­lace strung on silk rib­bon. This piece sug­gested an ease and Cal­i­for­nia chic that the other selec­tions missed. Abalone has a color palette that shifts from green to blue to vio­let and pink with the light; depend­ing on the color you pair it with, it takes on a whole new char­ac­ter. It also feels won­der­ful on. The neck­laces she did in faux black or bronze pearls pair well with it although when worn sep­a­rately these orna­ments have a coun­ter­feit or tinny look.

Shift­ing now to the Sub­ver­sive for Tar­get offer­ings, the CFDA cel­e­brated, twenty-something Giunta appears to have taken an entirely dif­fer­ent approach to that of Cohen. From view­ing the col­lec­tion at least twice in per­son, there are state­ment pieces that can and should be worn alone, despite the fact that the designer adheres to a “more is more” aes­thetic. In keep­ing with tra­di­tional jew­elry (an ironic aspect to this col­lec­tion since Giunta has been quite vocal about shun­ning the “estab­lish­ment” that he per­ceives jew­elry to be) there are coor­di­nat­ing ear­rings and bracelets. Too much match­ing for my taste, although when worn sep­a­rately, the bracelets, with their mix of crys­tals, beads, and charm-like motifs have a delight­ful presence.

Subversive for Target

In his own line, Giunta uses the place­ment of gems or dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments in a strate­gic way. Chains are knot­ted, criss-crossed, or left dan­gling abstractly. The effect is not so dif­fer­ent from leav­ing a mess of orna­ments in a drawer for a cou­ple or twenty years. This look is not for every­one and I’m unde­cided if it works on any­one over the age of thirty-five (a demo­graphic of which I may be included). The pieces he did for Tar­get have his stamp but not the com­plex­ity, which where some of it took a left turn. The designs in gen­eral are more sub­dued in com­par­i­son to Giunta’s orig­i­nal line; the edgi­ness has been restrained in exchange for mass appeal. The chain neck­laces are a melange of tex­ture and hue, thus giv­ing them their “Sub­ver­sive” patina. A few items are infused with color; yet only the more sub­tle ones are wear­able. The crayola-bright items that looked like the beads my chil­dren played with in nurs­ery school were silly. Unless my lit­tle one made it with his tiny, sweet fin­gers and he shines that beatific smile when he sees me put it on, I am not going to wear it. The Bauhaus label attached to these items sug­gests noth­ing rec­og­niz­able and oozes high-concept marketing.

Suversive for Target

Yet where Giunta wins my vote is in his vision of the pearl neck­lace; he works these gems in a way that takes the clas­sic orna­ment to a con­tem­po­rary place. The Silk Crys­tal Beaded Neck­lace he designed for Tar­get ties pink and white pearls together with an asym­met­ri­cally wrapped chain of dia­mante and accented by a large smoky crys­tal that is set off to one side. The image of it on their site does not show it to its best advan­tage; it has a cer­tain drama when you see it. The neck­lace fas­tens with very pretty silk rib­bons that lend a vin­tage charm to the over­all design and recalls eighteenth-century ver­sions that used the same method of attach­ment. I tried the neck­lace out this past week­end when I went to din­ner and those at the table gave it a big thumbs up. It did look great. I wouldn’t be at all sur­prised if this piece became a future collectible.

Subversive for Target

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