More than bags and shoes
Matthew Campbell Laurenza doesn’t really get all the fuss over "it" bags and must-have shoes. Jewelry, he contends, is where it’s at, and from the look of the crowd gathered at Tootsies for his recent public appearance, he’s in good company.
His M.C.L Collection of jewelry is bold and colorful, with vintage elements incorporated into each bracelet, necklace, cuff link and ring. Laurenza plays with a brilliant spectrum because, he says, color is mood-altering and happiness looks good on everybody.
“Jewelry is always the most important. Shoes you can’t see. They go under the table at a dinner party and you put your handbag down, but you can always see jewelry,” Laurenza says. “Jewelry can completely change the look of even the plainest outfit.”
Working with colored sapphires, sterling silver and pearls, he injects a dose of art deco into each piece. Colored enamel and a touch of whimsy are hallmarks of his jewelry. In creating the collection, he draws from his extensive travels and interest in art.
“I love antiques and love anything-turn of the century, art deco, Pre-Columbian,” he says. “I got my start as a sculptor, not a jewelry designer, so I see things differently.”
Once he gets a shape, fabric and idea in his head, Laurenza is off and running, normally completing a collection in eight months. That’s sketch to sample and it often includes 200 to 300 styles. Jewelry ranges from $800 to $1,500, climbing to $10,000 depending on the stones.
“My favorite pieces are what I’m working on right now. Creating jewelry is like raising a kid. You take care of it and then let it go,” he says.
Obviously enamored with jewelry, Laurenza is crossing over to create clutches, mixing fabric patterns and jewelry. At just under $400 and in a range of sizes and shapes, the clutches were a hot item at Tootsies, with a purse available one minute and quickly purchased the next.
His pieces are eye-catching without being ostentatious and are favorites for celebrities like Annette Benning, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Hudson and Rihanna, who first wore his jewelry on the red carpet and never stopped. It's a thrill for sure, but now he says he's jaded a bit, although it's easy to detect quiet appreciation for Rihanna.
"Their stylists choose things and you have a good feeling, but you don't know until you see it on," Laurenza says.
Sporting geek chic glasses and a trim vest, Laurenza's personal style seems a contrast to his bright designs, but that didn't stop the female throng from ooohing and aahing over more than just his jewelry. (It was the first time Laurenza brought his collection to Tootsies and speaks to fresh lines the store's buyers are bringing into the new location.)
When not in the air, Laurenza revels in his New York, Hong Kong and Bangkok homes. Hailing from Colorado, the former boy scout with an eye for design is definitely on the go, so it won’t be surprising to see him back in Texas either.