Originally from Barcelona, Spain, the prestigious jewelry designer, Paz Sintes, currently lives in New York City, a metropolis that has served as the perfect platform for launching her creations out to all of the United States and the world, primarily countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and of course her native Spain.
After working for some years for diverse companies in the fashion industry in Barcelona, Paris, and St. Petersburg, Paz launched her first textile jewelry collection in 2005, starting a successful trajectory with the brand that bears her name.
Her designs, appreciated as 100% artisanal works of art, have been featured in museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Diego Museum of Art in California, the Flagger Museum in Florida, and the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, to mention just a few forums where her works have been showcased and sold.
She has been featured in publications such as the magazine Hola, Marie Claire, La Vanguardia, American Craft Magazine, and Spaniards in New York, but one of the key moments in her career was without a doubt April 27, 2015, when her majesty the Queen Letizia wore her jewelry at a social event that was covered by the international press.
She currently works from her studio in Brooklyn and took time out of her packed work schedule to grant us this interview with SerPlaya Magazine and to talk with us a bit about her history, her work, and her life in the Big Apple.
What inspired you to dedicate yourself to fashion and design?
“I started drawing fashion figures at the age of eight. I tried to reproduce the dresses that I saw in movies. I was fascinated by black and white cinema and the glamor of Hollywood. I was also inspired by being the youngest of five sisters. My oldest sister was my muse: a tall and svelte girl, super fashionista, very 80s. I would draw her with the clothes she bought, and all the clothes I thought she should buy. I also put makeup on her. Of course, like almost all designers, I sewed clothes for the dolls of that era in Spain, the “Nancys”.
It was clear to me all my life that I would dedicate myself to fashion, so I studied fashion, a decision that did not make everyone happy, hahaha!. What I never imagined is that I would end up having my own jewelry brand. The only accessories that interested me were shoes.
For whom does Paz Sintes design, and how would you define your concept?
Inspired in large part by dance and also by jazz music, the collection is based on lightness, movement, and textures. I like for my textile jewelry, sewn by hand, to be part of the clothing and movement of the wearer. I’ve confirmed that those who wear it feel completely differently than they do when they wear metal jewelry. Traditional jewelry is based on the weight of the piece. Mine is based on movement.
Also, the use of vintage textiles and hand sewing reflect, for me, the passage of time and the etherealness of life.
Who are your clients?
I have a remarkable diversity of clients (from 12 to 90 years old!), but all of them are fascinated by the lightness of the collection, including many women who had always had magnificent rocks and bling-bling jewelry. After they buy their first piece, they keep buying, because they feel different, not to mention the uniqueness of the collection: one-of-a-kind pieces and limited editions, sewn and dyed in my atelier in Brooklyn.
Basically, I would define my client from the USA as a woman who’s around 50-60 years old, cultured, refined, and well-traveled, who’s really looking for something unique. In New York that woman often lives in the Upper West Side. Style matters to her more than trends. She understands that to really differentiate herself, she has to search for and support entrepreneurs and locally-made products.
Sometimes the client is like me, jewelry never interested her, and with my pieces she doesn’t feel like she’s wearing an accessory, it feels more like part of her skin. She appreciates the historical aspect of the collection, in addition to the lightness and the quality. There are also many people who are allergic to metal or who have problems with heavy jewelry who like the idea of textiles.
The four best compliments that I’ve gotten in these last 10 years have been:
“When I’m wearing other jewelry it’s about the object. When I’m wearing yours it’s about me.”
“Your jewelry gets more compliments than any other that I own and I’m a collector.”
“My diamonds don’t get attention anymore. I’m planning to collect yours only from now on.”
“When I wear my lacy choker on a date the man in front of me becomes transfixed. It never fails.”
How did you manage to form your business in a city like New York?
Without a doubt, one of the best parts of North American society is the support for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Unlike Europe, new ideas, new businesses, and inventive young people are wanted and supported. Everything and everyone is seen as an opportunity. The government also sees you as an opportunity, not as a problem. As a consequence, it’s relatively simple to start your business.
The flip side is that you work easily 12 hours a day, and you’re lucky if you free up one day a week, or if you manage to see a film twice a year. There are no free gifts here. Competition is fierce; maintaining yourself is difficult and draining, a constant battle. You have to be in love with, and I would say obsessed with, what you do. But certainly, nobody treats you like someone who doesn’t want to work. In Spain, most people keep thinking that the only jobs that exist are the“9 to 5” ones.”
How have your designs been received in America and in Europe?
Excellently. I’ve been here 10 years already, and obviously I can speak more to the American reality than the European one.
Europeans like my collection because, among other things, they appreciate the historical aspect of the traditional embroidery and lace, in addition to the detail and the quality of the work of course.
When I arrived to the United States, I was very afraid that my concept wouldn’t be understood, primarily because of how outsiders see the American esthetic: big, shiny, and loud. In other words, almost the opposite of my esthetic, hahahaha!
Fortunately, I’ve been garnering interest bit by bit, first in my city, New York, and then in other cities, like Chicago, for example.
My presence in museum shops all over the country has also given me extraordinary validation.
Tell us about your piece that the Queen Letizia wore.
What happened with Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain has been a very emotional moment for me, in addition to being immense promotion.
Informed about my work, I imagine, by people who know my brand, I was contacted one day by the Royal House. You can imagine my nerves! There are certain details that I can’t reveal, but the truth is that at the last moment, I added a bracelet to a package of earrings for Her Majesty. The package was detained at customs, so I feared the worst. The biggest impact was when, three days after the package arrived at the Royal House (finally!), I received an email with a link to a video where Her Majesty wore my earrings and my bracelet to the Literature Awards “Barco de Vapor” with a navy blue jumpsuit made by company Mango, a company where I designed clothes for precisely four years. This happened on April 22, 2015. The event was covered by all the national and international press, and the bracelet, unusual for Queen Letizia, was the most commented piece. She had changed her whole look, she had cut her hair, she looked divine, I would say refreshing. It was voted one of the best Queen Letizia looks of the year.
Her Majesty Queen Letizia is exquisite, and it’s a luxury for any designer for her to pick one of their pieces. I feel very fortunate.
Where can we find your products, and how often do you present new creations?
I sell my textile jewelry in stores, especially museum shops all over the country; I also sell worldwide through my website www.pazsintes.com but only part of the collection, and I do something called here Arts and Crafts shows all over the country.
At first I created two collections a year, fall and spring, and I would present them in trade shows where the shops would go and buy from me.
Then I started to make more limited editions and unique pieces, which is what my clientele wants, so now I don’t separate seasons anymore.
I introduce new styles progressively, either driven by new trends, or simply when I feel the inner urge to do so. It’s immensely satisfying to design what you wish, and have other people feel compelled to buy it. I couldn’t be happier.
How has being a Hispanic woman succeeding in New York been an influence; who have you run into during your career?
To be honest, I don’t have it on my mind on a day to day basis that I’m a woman or that I’m Hispanic. In New York, the diversity is so wild, that you can feel part of the city and not part of it at the same time, but you always feel comfortable. It’s true that at some point you identify yourself as a “not local” and somehow as a Latina, but the fact that most people come from abroad, or have an immigrant who arrived in the United States from somewhere else in their family history, makes you feel differently.
Having my own business during these years, I have met many people from different nationalities who have inspired and supported me, such as the Argentinian Tania Carol Lugones from Viva Zapata Bags, who introduced me to the Arts and Crafts shows in New York.
What do you have planned for 2017?
Usually I have many more projects on my hands than I can carry out, hahaha! But now in particular I have two more short-term projects: opening my own showroom in Manhattan and launching my men’s collection.
Por Jorge Ayala | New York 2017
Fotografa: DELLA BASS | Modelo: SAM
- The photographs in this article were provided courtesy of Paz Sintes.