By Far Closes Melrose, Anna Hu’s Museum Pieces, Montserrat’s Green Eyewear

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ROAD CLOSURE: Maybe not since 2005 when Marc Jacobs had a block party to open his Los Angeles store has Melrose Place been shut down in the name of fashion.

But such was the case Wednesday night, when By Far laid out a pink carpet on the street, and set an orange dinner table for 100 guests to celebrate its first retail boutique with actresses and influencers, including Talulah and Scout Willis, Delilah Belle Hamlin, Jaimie Alexander, Soko, Kitty Cash, Elsa Hosk and more.

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The digitally native affordable luxury accessories label that helped bring back the ’90’s tuck-under-your-arm bag, was launched in Bulgaria in 2016 by three cofounders — sisters Sabina Gyosheva, who is the chief executive officer, and Valentina Ignatova, who is the chief marketing officer, and their friend Denitsa Bumbarova, who is chief creative officer.

Denitsa Bumbarova, Maria Bakalova, Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Ignatova. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR
Denitsa Bumbarova, Maria Bakalova, Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Ignatova. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, Oscar-nominated for her role in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” was the guest of honor, dressed in a sparkly pink set by Good American with her stylist Jessica Paster in tow. “I love a pair of pajamas,” she said of the easy glam look, paired with By Far boots.

At dinner, talk among the brand founders and their adopted Bulgarian sister turned to food, and the question of why one can’t find a banitsa pastry in L.A. Made with a mix of yogurt, cheese and filo, the secret ingredient is sparkling water, according to Bakalova, who said her mother makes it best. “I should start a business,” she joked of the banitsa-free zone.

Guests attend the By Far L.A. store opening party. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR
Guests attend the By Far L.A. store opening party. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

Also at the soiree, stylist Mimi Cuttrell, who helped boost By Far’s business by introducing it to her influential clients Gigi and Bella Hadid.

Cuttrell became such good friends with the brand founders, she did a capsule collaboration with them that is in store now. “The only thing I regret is not being able to travel to the factories,” she said of designing the platforms, kitten sling-backs and mini bags while working during COVID-19 restrictions.

New mom Emma Roberts was wearing shoes and a bag from the collaboration, as well as a By Far belt. Her next project, “Abandoned,” out June 17, is a horror film that deals with postpartum depression, something she thankfully did not experience in real life.

The best part of a COVID-19 pregnancy during lockdown, was having even more time to read, said the cofounder of Belletrist, an online bookworm community. Her summer reading pick? “Everybody Thought We Were Crazy” about Dennis Hopper’s and Brooke Hayward’s stylish, wild, art-filled life in L.A. in the 1960s. “It’s like Eve Babitz came back from the grave,” she said of author Mark Rozzo’s voice.

After shopping and dinner, attention turned to the stage and the surprise performers — Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum and their Prince cover band, Princess. Taking the mics in minidresses and By Far go-go boots, they got the crowd on its well-heeled feet with their “Delirious” jam. — BOOTH MOORE

Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum of Princess perform at the By Far party. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR
Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum of Princess perform at the By Far party. - Credit: Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

Courtesy/Getty Images for BY FAR

FOREVER AND A DAY: After more than a decade with American artist Cindy Sherman, the duo of snakes designed for her by jeweler Anna Hu have moved to a forever home — the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

“In France, an acquisition for a museum is forever, which means that forever this incredible work will lay here at the museum and will [be] for so many visitors — for years, decades and centuries to come — a testimony of your work and talent,” said the institution’s director Olivier Gabet at a ceremony marking her design’s entry into the Paris museum’s permanent collection.

“These serpents have their own fate,” said Hu, who trained as a classical cellist and studied art history before veering toward jewelry design.

This path convinced her that her mission is to “use jewelry as a piece of music that connects past, present and future” while also serving as a bridge between East and West — one of the very elements that Sherman had wanted for her jewelry piece.

Hu recounted how, fresh out of her job at Harry Winston, an initial meeting with Sherman at a charity gala led to an invitation to visit the jeweler’s first store at New York’s Plaza Hotel.

When Sherman arrived without makeup, “completely different from her very strong staged photo work,” Hu was struck by the dichotomy. Their conversation turned to the harmony that emerges from opposing elements or contrasting qualities coming together and eventually led the American artist to want “a duet” to create a piece together.

After agreeing to use the snake — their shared Chinese zodiac sign — as a symbol of the connection between East and West, Sherman requested a motif connecting both elements.

The yin-yang hand ornament created for Cindy Sherman. - Credit: David Katz/Courtesy of Anna Hu
The yin-yang hand ornament created for Cindy Sherman. - Credit: David Katz/Courtesy of Anna Hu

David Katz/Courtesy of Anna Hu

Hu eventually proposed the yin-yang, which she explained was not only a symbol for day and night but also reflected duality in a person, which satisfied Sherman so much that she “literally screamed out of happiness,” the jeweler revealed, adding that the artist liked it so much she wore it even when sleeping.

“For me, jewelry isn’t just a beautiful object. It has symbolic meaning and [embodies the] love between the collector and the creator,” she said.

In the case of the hand ornament, two snakes with diamond and gemset backs and garnet eyes biting into either side of an onyx and agate yin-yang symbol, it embodied the creative dialogue between “one great artist and another great artist,” Gabet said.

During the ceremony, he revealed that the acquisition board had been unanimously approved the donation made by Sherman, who is also a board member of the New York-based Friends of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs association.

He described Hu’s work as “totally consistent” with the history of jewelry, spanning from “ancient times to yesterday morning, that the museum and its Galeries des Bijoux bear witness to.”

The piece’s inclusion also made sense in light of the changing face of Western luxury. “There is such a vibrancy, a dynamism to the Chinese high jewelry scene that it was high time [for] an artistic capital like Paris to recognize and pay attention to it,” he continued. — LILY TEMPLETON

EYES ON THE PLANET: Montserrat New York is debuting its first sustainable eyewear line with eyewear-maker King Children on Friday.

Montserrat New York released its first sunglass line in two vacation-ready styles. - Credit: Courtesy Montserrat
Montserrat New York released its first sunglass line in two vacation-ready styles. - Credit: Courtesy Montserrat

Courtesy Montserrat

The glasses — in two key styles and select colorways including fuschia, black and navy — are made with a special zero-waste 3D printing technology courtesy of King Children. Both “The Capri,” which is a classic cat-eye shape and “The Paros,” a ’90s-inspired rounded square style, were crafted with Montserrat’s flair for gold accents and architectural details. Some of that flair is attributed to cofounder and designer Carolina Cordón-Bouzán, who pairs influences from New York City and Barcelona for a Manhattan vacationer’s aesthetic.

The styles retail for $195, exclusively online at Montserrat-nyc.com.

The collection also leans into a unique 3D printing technology called selective laser sintering, which reduces waste by etching out each frame from a fine polyamide powder, a 100 percent bio-based material from castor bean oil. The high-tech material is a substitute for traditional acetate and, according to King Children, does not compromise on design integrity. The company said the process generates a significant reduction in CO2 emissions compared to traditional eyewear companies.

“Our research estimates that for each frame produced, four pairs worth of material is thrown out. A traditional acetate frame is made by shaving down a block of plastic — a process which, unfortunately, only utilizes 20 percent of the actual material while the remaining 80 percent becomes production waste. With so much waste created for just a single pair of glasses it was clear that the traditional method is unsustainable,” said Sahir Zaveri, cofounder and chief executive officer of King Children, on the need for change.

Gayle Yelon, cofounder of Montserrat New York, said the collaboration highlights a shared passion for technological innovation and will set the tone for the brand’s next initiatives in the lab grown diamond space.

“Montserrat will continue to make advances in sustainability, most notably within the fine jewelry space as we continue to design solely using lab-grown diamonds. A diamond that we say is grown out of love for the planet, not taken from the planet….We’re excited to look toward technology to reimagine the ways we create product to better our planet.” — KALEY ROSHITSH

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