Objet D'Art

Talking To: Emerging Jewelry Designer Lizzie Fortunato

Fashion editor Heather Dunhill talks with Lizzie Fortunato, who's on the way to world-wide accessory domination.

By Heather Dunhill March 31, 2016

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Founders and twin sisters Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato

Confession: I'm so enamored with the emerging brand Lizzie Fortunato.

Seriously. It makes me so happy. The ahead-of-the-curve designs are feminine yet cheeky, created with unexpected materials. Not to mention, the unmistakably modern brand was founded by two impossibly clever women who happen to be twins--Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato. Lizzie, who heads up creative, often draws on historical, artistic and architectural references, making her fashion-forward jewelry feel well-traveled. But more than that, my growing collection feels like old friends who always bring a smile to my face. 

Before we get to my interview with Lizzie, we also have to talk about the brand's range of handbags. They are perfectly quirky and adorned with exquisite hand-loomed embroidery and beading. Likely the chicest I've seen since Edie Parker came on my radar for art-forward clutch. 

 With that, here's Lizzie Fortunato herself.


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How would you describe Lizzie Fortunato to the woman who may be unfamiliar with the line?
Lizzie Fortunato designs statement accessories (jewelry and leather goods) for the woman who dresses to tell a story and turn heads. Our pieces incorporate embroidery, semi-precious stones, leather, brass, African glass beads and other mixed materials for a look that is “luxury artisanal.” We draw on travel, fine art, and textiles for inspiration and loves to dress woman who are independent, dreamers, artists and adventurers.

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 We all have those mornings where we run late – what jewelry do you reach for in a pinch?
Earrings! It’s the fastest way to feel "dressed" and pulled together. I love bringing some attention to the face with a bold earring, and it immediately dresses up the rest of your look.

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 Lets talk about your cheeky, feminine handbags--what inspires the fun designs?
These are so fun to design, and inspiration comes from everywhere. Sometimes the inspiration is more literal--for example, I designed the Spring ’14 collection after a few weeks in Tokyo and one of the bags that came out of that season was embroidered with sushi and sashimi. And Spring’15 was based on a trip to Oaxaca and Mexico City, and one of that collection’s clutches featured crystal-embellished toucans. I don’t always have the luxury to travel every season, so I also spend a lot of time looking at art books, fashion magazines, and pinterest. I hand-draw all of the designs and sometimes its just a matter of seeing an interesting image (a wallpaper sample that I found on Pinterest is the basis for a Resort ’17 floral that I designed) and going from there!

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What is your favorite jewelry trend of all time?
The Native American squash blossom silhouette. It’s classic and stunning and statement and gets me every time.

How about some insight for the woman who wants to launch her dream biz as you have--what failure was important to your success?
We’ve been a small business that has been bootstrapped virtually since the beginning… sometimes I’ve tried to take it all on myself to the point where mistakes start occurring, not to mention felt so burnt out that it makes me want to throw in the towel. I think that it takes something going wrong--from a late shipment to a production hiccup--to teach the lesson about delegation and letting go.

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What’s next for Lizzie Fortunato?
We did a NYC holiday pop-up store that sold pieces from the line alongside curated lifestyle products--which we’ve labeled Fortune Finds--which was a blast. I love merchandising my own designs next to art, ceramics, vintage pieces and the creations of other artists that I admire, and I think further dipping my toe into lifestyle could be next…

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And for the lightning round…

Leopard-print or giraffe-print? Giraffe

Run-D.M.C. or Eminem? Run DMC

Diamonds or rose quartz?  Diamonds!

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Find Lizzie Fortunato pieces in downtown Sarasota at Rue (73 S. Palm Ave, suites 220/221) or online at www.lizziefortunato.com.

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