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The Push
& Pull of
Comfort & Fashion


Joan Vest in Bone

Tehya Trouser in Salt

A Brief Intro:

Danica Stamenic is a vintage jewelry purveyor and creator of a swoon-worthy fine jewelry capsule collection. When she is not curating her coveted vintage collection (her drops sell out within hours), she is balancing life as a mother of one (soon to be two) and chipping away at her growing list of custom fine jewelry projects (she made my beloved engagement ring that receives endless compliments).

Danica is a dear friend and collaborator of many years. It was a joy to visit her in her beautiful downtown Los Angeles showroom to discuss her journey towards jewelry, what inspires her most about the process and how her upbringing and transition into motherhood have influenced how she shows up in the world.

Photos by James Rohan

Intro by Natasha Zoë Garrett


Joan Vest

in Bone

What was the earliest piece of clothing you can remember? 
One of my earliest memories about clothes are my mother’s scarves. She had several really big, beautiful, billowy cotton and silk scarves, and I loved them so much that she would make them into dresses for me. Somewhere I have a photo around age four, where she had twisted and folded the scarf into a one-shoulder dress, and it’s fastened with a really beautiful silver brooch. I actually remember that day and how beautiful and regal the whole thing made me feel (haha, truly a Leo baby).

What’s your relationship with clothes like? 
It’s funny how hard this question is for me to answer! I think that’s because clothing for me is always a negotiation, between how I want to present myself to the world and how I want to feel in my body. There’s always a bit of a push and pull, even when I feel the most confident and authentic and at-ease. It’s always a translation. But working with that slight tension is also part of what I love about clothes, and fashion generally. 


Maya Top in Kelp

Tehya Trouser in Salt

You started as a vintage jewelry dealer before selling your own pieces; how did that experience influence what your brand has become? 
Vintage jewelry has been my greatest teacher! I really came to my understanding of jewelry design and fabrication through handling, examining, and appreciating jewelry, over the past 9 years (6 of them now spent as an independent dealer, the first three working for someone else). Each era in history has had its unique approach, or added some new element to the conversation, while continually referencing the past. Equally, being exposed to so many thousands of unique pieces of the years has been a humbling experience. I don’t feel that the pieces I make are earth-shattering in their uniqueness (I’ve seen too much to delude myself, haha), but I do think that they are the result of years of refining what it is I most want to wear, and the areas where I feel I can fill a contemporary need. 

How did your background studying Art History inform your style? 
I think, on a practical level, understanding the overall artistic context of various periods has made it easier to identify style patterns and date pieces of jewelry. It’s informed my approach to grouping (or – whince – “curating”) pieces, how I put collections together and tell that story. But on a more felt level, having an appreciation for the human context in which a piece of art / fashion / architecture / jewelry was created – I think that informs how and why we wear a piece. Both in my collecting style and personal style, that context is always a layer.

How has your upbringing influenced your approach to jewelry design and the pieces you create? Any specific pieces that it has influenced? My parents met in film school, my mom was also a photographer and my father a vintage rug/textile dealer, my aunt designed jewelry for many years, my grandfather was a painter. So, there was always a big focus on artistic appreciation, on finding pleasure and a sense of self through visual expression. 


Freya Blouse & Joni Lounge Pant 

in Vintage Stripe

“There was always a big focus on artistic appreciation, on finding pleasure and a sense of self through visual expression.”

When you’re designing a new piece of jewelry, where do you begin? What’s your process?  
In general, I start by thinking about the need, what’s missing or what’s the purpose of the thing I want to make. I’m big into experimenting on paper and in wax with various shapes, getting frustrated and stuck and scrapping most ideas before I settle on something. Usually I’ll eventually make a prototype, and wear that for a long time to see how I feel in it, before I actually release something. When I’m designing a one-of-a-kind, custom piece for a private client, my process is similar but slightly different. I usually start with drawings, which is informed by a combination of the client’s wants/needs, and my inspiration based on their energy. From there, the focus shifts to the material itself, often a stone will be central and I’ll just see what the stone is asking for in terms of proportion and shape, which I tend to carve in wax before casting and realizing the final piece. 

What do you value in the clothes you buy? The clothes you wear? Even the clothes you get for your daughter? 
Fabric is always number one for me. If my skin isn’t attracted to it, neither is my eye! (This totally goes for jewelry, too). And, of course, tailoring, craftsmanship, and the way in which something has been made, and why. For Mila, the consideration is also first and foremost comfort, because that’s what’s most important to her. A couple years ago, she looked me in the eyes and said, “mom, fashion is your thing. It’s not my thing!” I have much respect for that, haha! 

How has becoming a mother changed what you value in clothing? In what you wear? 
I find that my confidence has exponentially expanded after the phoenix-like process of becoming a mother. It’s made me care so much less what other people think, it’s helped me to better articulate who I am and what I want, to myself. So all of these things get translated into my personal style, and the clothes I wear. There’s also more utilitarian considerations like comfort, flexibility, all of that. Feeling pulled together, with a balance of masculine and feminine elements, has been a constant, though. 

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