LegioMade are the latest world-class talent to come out of the tiny Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry located in Harajuku, Tokyo.  The designer was showing his latest work as part of the alumni and graduate exhibition of the college, Jewelry Inc, a relatively new venture but an excellent portfolio for a school that consistently turns out innovative and artisanal brands with a regularity that is vaguely humbling.  LegioMade may be quite traditional in his output, but rest assured that from other designers at the show there were new takes on traditional ivory work, accessories made from camera lenses and exceptionally delicate foral work made in blackened iron.  For a jewelry fan such as I, it really doesn’t get much better, but even against such innovation, it was the aforementioned LegioMade (occasionally Legio Made) that stole the show for me and if you will allow me I would like to show you why.

For a start, his work is pretty gimmick free – no cheap zirconia, no plating that will look good for five minutes and no designs that don’t fit the sombre tone of the whole.  Second, is his pretty masochistic need to literally fill every millimeter of each and every piece with some kind of detail, and no, we are not talking random soldering on of parts from other designs which is the lazy silversmiths favorite excuse for “custom” work.  Rather each design is carved and cast with a truly staggering amount of  irregular detail that reeks of love.  Wherever you look there are eyes winking out, faces cast in screams, harlequins leering – it all seems alive.  As you have probably gathered the inspirations here are pretty dark, by the designer’s own admission, classical depictions of hell are a big inspiration, but it is the sense of awe and not the grotesque that he aims to capture.  In short it is sobering, serious jewelry, and has much more in common with Venetian vanity rings than death metal.

Talking of metals, this is mostly silver, mixed in with a variety of brass, and bronze of varying colours depending on the designers aim with the piece, for example, his Satyr ring is cast in bronze so dark that it resembles a muddy black, whereas a brushed brass is the suitable third eye for his skulls.  Stones find their place organically in the work, and rarely feel forced.  Likewise wooden beads are a fine compliment to some of the more tribal designs and feel just right next to the silver.

Enough of my ramblings, on with the jewelry:

This is my favorite work from the current collection, a cultish and statuesque masterpiece in silver and brass.

A new (and very restrained) brushed silver skull ring.

A long spine ring worn distorted around the finger.

Sorrowful, mourning face pendants.

This really is the jewelry of a modern cult combining various mythical concepts from various cults, religions and cultures and blending them through a modern Japanese eye with a hint of futurism.  It really is unique, and it is easily some of best jewelry I have handled in many years.

Talking of which, the designer let me have a play with his wallet and chain:

The keeper worn over the belt.

And the weighty chain!

I just thought I would include some highlights from his portfolio as my showroom pictures really needed a different lens that I neglected on the day.

I just had to include this piece as well for those amazing silver and brass spikes.

And finally a ring produced in collaboration with Strange Freak Designs – great work all round.

If that has peaked your interest then head on over to the website and if you are in Tokyo then Abilletage in Shinjuku will do the job nicely (and serve you a cup of tea while you are at it!).

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4 Responses to LegioMade Latest Collection at Jewelry Inc.2 Exhibition

  1. Andrew says:

    I really like the looks of that spine ring! Of course skulls will always be the classic, and I don’t have any silver to speak of anyway so I’m coming in as an outsider, but I have really liked some of the other bone-inspired jewelry I’ve seen (this spine, a ring of folding bone hands, etc).

    Oh but that chain is totally awesome too!

  2. Samuel says:

    @ Andrew

    Trust me, silver gets addictive fast… I know a couple of interesting designers who work with bone imagery – I will definitely get round to posting some of their work after Fashion Week.


  3. Clare says:

    Hi Samuel,
    I’ve just ordered a pendant from Strange Freak Designs that was a collaboration piece with LegioMade. It has that organic, sinister and weirdly beautiful vibe that these two designers do so well. It kind of looks like the love child of a crustacean and an antelope – a textured carapace with these flowing, twisted horns coming out. I’ve also ordered a SFD ring, a textured eye-less skull piece that seems like a natural companion to the pendant. Both designers were pretty surprised, but pleased, that a female foreigner from the other side of the world would seek out their designs (I gave Tokyo Telephone the credit for this).
    Can’t wait to have them in my hands. Of course, once you have one, you need to collect all the variations on the theme……addictive indeed!

  4. Samuel says:

    @ Claire,

    That has really made my day, this site is all about sharing the right work that should be seen, and it is especially good when people actually go on to buy it from abroad – particularly as the exchange rate is not quite on their side…

    I myself recently picked up some LegioMade in brass and I just can’t stop looking at it and checking it out from every angle. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed when it arrives!


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