With diamonds a girls best friend, gold and silver enemies who should never be seated side by side and fake jewellery apparently worse than none at all, deciding how to adorn your ears, neck and fingers can be more complicated and laden with tradition than a Medieval wedding ceremony. Long-time work and leisure companions Jess Constance and Katherine Etheridge, of jewellery and accessories label Dallas and Carlos, present a strong case for throwing the rulebook to the wind.
They invite you to layer up with one, two or a whole fistful of treasures born from unorthodox combinations of gold and silver skulls, sirens, anchors, mermaids, crossed hearts, goddess masons, diamonds, Caribbean colours, Cuban chains, turquoise and Brazilian agate. With their recently released SS 2012/23 collection, Shipwreck, inspired by all things of the aquatic variety, dipping into Dallas and Carlos’s forbidden pirate’s chest is well worth a walk down the plank.
After forming the label in 2009 over a shared Brazilian summer, Constance and Etheridge have since managed to escape the need to hibernate during the harsh winter by adopting a nomadic lifestyle. The duo have spent their mid-year months in the Northern Hemisphere, sourcing both design inspiration and the unique materials used in their production, before returning to Australian shores each summer.
“We’ve both lived in Bondi for six months, before that we were in Rio de Janeiro and Miami. All three places are similar in many ways – laidback, fun and a big beach culture. Our jewellery is designed to suit that kind of lifestyle,” says Etheridge.
Whilst the Shipwreck collection lends itself easily to a marriage with the blonde hair, bronzer and bathing suit trifecta that spells quintessential Bondi (and shines when styled alongside lashings of body oil and gold sequins in the freshly shot campaign images), you don’t need to be Gisele Bundchen, or even fond of denim shorts and a one piece, to wear Dallas and Carlos. A dainty sterling silver anchor dangling from a wrist or a brightly coloured explosion of plaited cord strung around the neck is a welcome point of interest whether the wearer is poolside in Miami Beach or pounding the pavements of an urban oasis. The call of the sea that permeates the latest collection has proven universal, with the brand picking up a multitude of overseas stockists in recent months.
“At the moment, we are expanding our stockists in the US, where we have just done a selling trip. We’ll be in some amazing new stores in LA, San Diego, New York, Miami and Vegas, which is really exciting”.
Despite the international flavour at the core of Dallas and Carlos, the brand works from an ethical, handcrafted starting point that underpins all processes. The trend towards mass production and compromised quality that often accompanies globalised trade is avoided in favour of the use of local artisans and limited production runs, so as to avoid over-saturation.
“For all of our leather pieces, we work with a beautiful third generation Italian family in Melbourne who hand make all of our custom pieces. Their attention to detail is divine and their work gives each piece a delicate finish that is impossible to achieve in a large factory. For all other pieces, we spend a lot of time sourcing unique materials that make up our collections – our stones are from Brazil and South America and our plated cord pieces are hand woven in a small town on the coast of Southern Brazil.”
Although for most of us, seaside Brazilian holidays may remain in the realm of fantasy for the time being, a little piece of what the Dallas and Carlos girls call “life nauticana” doesn’t have to. Here’s to aquatic dreams.