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C California Style

Designer Juan Carlos Obando's studio.
Designer Juan Carlos Obando's studio.
Designer Juan Carlos Obando's studio.
Designer Juan Carlos Obando's studio.
Look from his Spring 2013 collection. PHOTO: Courtesy of Juan Carlos Obando.

Tooling Around

by intern

L.A. designer Juan Carlos Obando introduces a line of heavy metal jewelry.

Affectionately known as JCO, Juan Carlos Obando is soft spoken and sweet, visibly charged by his environment and acutely aware of his customer. As his collection—now in its sixth year—became more defined, the designer saw an opportunity to create a complementary accessories line. “The idea kept coming up. ‘She needs to wear jewelry with these pieces,’” he says. “It could no longer be an afterthought.” Not a diffusion label to join what has become his signature evening wear, the jewelry is part and parcel with the clothing; there is an undeniable communication between the two.

The tight collection of 15 pieces takes its cue from forms and textures that can be found at a local hardware store, like the thick-cut Saw Blade rings and twisted metal bangles that bring nails and washers to mind. Just as Obando’s ready-to-wear pieces eschew embellishment (or as he says, “there is no frouf to them!”), the all-brass jewelry is without additional adornment. “When working with just metals, you really have to think through the shapes,” Obando explains. “You’re not hiding behind any precious stones and saying, ‘It’s valuable.’ ” A particularly clever bracelet called The Transformer screws in and out of place with four separate pieces that form a delicate, vice-like square around the wrist. It’s a collection of opposites: polished but raw, sophisticated while edgy. “There must be wit; otherwise, it’s too pretentious.”

The line is also accessible; whereas one of his garments might cost $1,100, the jewelry begins at $200. Obando views his accessories as “spontaneous and nonchalant,” and he wants his clients to have the same attitude—throwing it on and scratching it up in the everyday. “There must always be an ease,” he says. And that applies as much to his to his stripped-down metal creations as it does to his colorful silk dresses. Available at Barneys New York; jcobando.com.

Written by Kristina Dechter
Photographed by Mor Weizman