Meet the creator of Beyonc`'s crown from the 7/11 video.
NYT Syndicate Enter Laura Wass's Brooklyn studio and you will
find brass bunny ears, candy-coloured bras, gold crowns and other pieces
that are a futuristic cross between happy-go-lucky and streetwise,
something a young Joan Jetson might have worn to an intergalactic rave.
Out of the ordinary as they may appear, you have probably seen them
before: a visor crown covering Beyonc`'s head as she meditated and
spun in her music video for 7/11; a stellated octahedron propped atop
one of Erykah Badu's iconic tall hats as the singer performed in
Philadelphia and New York last week; and a bone-white halo on the cover
for 'Awaken, My Love!', the most recent album from Childish
Gambino, also known as Donald Glover. Six more of these will be part of
his performance for Dave Chappelle's August residency at Radio City
Music Hall. Though Wass also sells less ostentatious jewellery "
necklaces made of miniature pyramids, simple metal cuffs and bracelets
with thin, dangling chains " she considers the funkier stuff the
soul of her company."These pieces are all about exuberant
self-expression and becoming almost like a superhero," she
said."They're both sincere and kind of funny, but that for me
is really where I see the value of the brand." Wass creates these
items using bungee cords and dozens of plated or powder-coated metal
tubes and beads. (The headpiece on Childish Gambino's album cover,
for example, required 157 tubes and 824 beads.) "When we're
weaving, we make it as efficient and streamlined as possible," Wass
said. The goal is to have one knot per item."There are no
redundancies. Ideally the cord ends where it starts. It's kind of
like solving a math problem." Wass' big break came in 2014,
when Bergdorf Goodman invited her to design a window as part of an
artist series, helping her attract the attention of stores like Colette,
10 Corso Como and Boon the Shop. That success eventually delivered fans
like reality star Kylie Jenner, Planned Parenthood president Cecile
Richards, and musicians Phantogram and James Blake. Sometimes, as with
'Awaken, My Love!' and Beyonc`'s crown, Wass does not
know where or how her pieces will end up. In other cases, she has made
personal connections that led to collaborations. She met Badu at a party
while wearing one of her own creations: a gold voluminous mask made of
pyramids."Erykah came up to me and was like: 'Hi, my name is
Erykah. Can you make these pieces for me?'" Wass
said."And I was like, 'Absolutely.'" Wass, 31,
majored in Latin American studies at the University of Pennsylvania but
had always been interested in art. After graduating in 2008, she took on
several jobs in manufacturing and product design, supporting labels like
Coach, Swarovski and Diane von Furstenberg with their jewellery
collections. In 2012, she founded WXYZ Jewelry. Why the obsession with
repeating shapes?"I was into the simplicity of the fundamental
structures on which our entire world is built," Wass said."The
structures of life itself are built on these fundamental shapes."
As for what is next, Wass wants to go bigger."At first, I wanted to
crack the code of creating a brand that's distinctive and
recognisable and has a clear voice and breaks through the noise,"
she said."In order to do that I had to get really specific. Now I
see these things almost as miniatures for building sets and sculptures,
and creating immersive worlds."
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