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.