Photography by Nicole Franzen | Words by Chandara K. Phanachone
Whether it was a single ostrich feather or an elaborate plumed crown, the ancient Egyptian deities wore headdresses as symbols of their pre-ordained powers, while pharaohs donned ceremonial head cloths to represent their power, status, and wealth. Over three thousand years later, headpieces still hold an important place for many brides on one of the important day of her life.
As a statement piece that has become more or less a means for a bride to express her sense of fashion and individuality, choosing a headpiece should not be a mere afterthought. Lucky for us, there are designers such as Jennifer Behr whose ability to intricately craft the most exquisite line of luxury hair accessories from mixed metals and Swarovski crystals have become a favorite among brides and celebrities including Charlize Theron and Anne Hathaway. Just after she returned from showing her Fall 2015 collection during Paris’ couture fashion week, we sat down with the famed designer to learn more about her inspiration behind her eponymous brand.
GM: Take us to the years before you launched your company in 2005.At the start of your career, you were designing hair accessories for renowned hair stylist, Frédéric Fekkai. How did that experience shape you into becoming the designer that we all know of today? JB : Working at a luxury company owned by Chanel gave me incredible insight into the luxury goods market. In the luxury market, there is such a huge focus on quality of materials and workmanship – both of which are incredibly important to me. I also learned about working with professional hair stylists to gather input about what types of pieces would work well on the head. When designing for the head, you have to think about balance, proportions, weight…it’s all very architectural, and the feedback from these hair stylists proved invaluable when I launched my brand.
GM: Have you always been interested in design? Where do you find sources of inspiration, and what has been the most rewarding part of your work? JB : I have a background in sculpture and art history – so history and creation. Design is essentially the art of beautiful problem-solving. I come from a family of problem solvers; my grandfather, father and brother were all engineers. My greatest source of inspiration is still the process of making. I sit down every season in front of a table full of materials and start making things. The inspiration for the collection grows from there. And of course, I love vintage jewelry and the amazing history of headpieces through the ages.
GM: What would you consider the defining characteristic(s) of a Jennifer Behr piece? Why? JB : At Jennifer Behr, the design and quality are paramount. Design always come first – our brides are very fashion forward and are looking for a headpiece that is an elegant as any fashion piece they would wear. And then after design comes construction. Cheaper headpieces are [usually] made in a mold, and cast in metal with glued-in rhinestones. We don’t use molds. Our crystals are all soldered together individually so that they will sparkle more brilliantly and so they are lighter and more comfortable to wear. We also custom make our bandeaux so they are flexible and lightweight.
GM: We incorporated your headpieces into our cover shoot for Issue 02, and we love that your hair accessories are so sturdy and constructed with a nod to quality craftsmanship. Why is it important to you, and do you have a particular favorite? JB : The process of making [a headpiece] is of the utmost importance to me. There are enough mass-produced products out there in the world already and I wouldn’t want to be part of this industry if I was just making more disposable products. We craft luxury, heirloom pieces. This is why we make the collection in our studio in Brooklyn where every piece is made by hand using the highest quality materials. There is something incredibly special and powerful about headpieces—kings and queens are crowned. What you wear becomes a part of you so why not purchase something that’s truly beautifully crafted? I don’t normally pick favorites, but I really love our Arielle Chignon Wrap with a double comb (worn by Lauren Conrad at her wedding and Maggie Gyllenhal at the Oscars) because it is super versatile; it can be worn wrapped around a chignon or in a French twist or even used to sweep back the hair on one side.
“Jennifer Behr whose ability to intricately craft the most exquisite line of luxury hair accessories from mixed metals and Swarovski crystals have become a favorite among brides and celebrities including Charlize Theron and Anne Hathaway.”
Read more in Issue 02