Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CLAUDIA LOBAO

The Iguazu Falls, which lies along the borders of Brazil, and Argentina, were first discovered over 400 years ago by Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. There are 275 falls each with an average height of 269 feet, an astounding example of raw power and beauty. Brazil is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Claudia Lobão.


The art of interlocking loops of thread or yarn with aluminum or metal hooks, known as crochet, has been around for roughly 200 years.

The technique was practiced in 19th century France, Ireland, Britain and the United States of America. The art form also found its way into Spanish speaking countries like Mexico, and South America.

This widely known technique for creating lace-like patterns in textiles has been incorporated as a mechanism to create ethereal, elegant jewelry.

Such designers as Haruko Sugawara (Japan) and Ruth Baird (New Zealand) entwine thin sterling silver or gold wires to suspend pendants or cultivate unusual, flowing forms. Lobão also makes grand use of this centuries-old technique.

Lobão's interest in producing unique, hand-made items began in her childhood as she often experimented with materials within her surroundings. Items like her mother's curtains and the strings from her father's Spanish guitar were used to conjure a lacy necklace. "I would find whatever I could around the house and see what I could make with it."

Lobão's natural beauty, however, would open doors to the fashion industry. She began modeling professionally at age 14 and though in the midst of high glamour with stunning fashion designs and makeup artists, her passion remained with jewelry.

Years later, after moving to New York City, Lobão left the world of modeling for a position at a bank. At the same time, she broadened her jewelry-making repertoire selling pieces to friends and co-workers.

The Big Apple also provided a romantic backdrop for the former model; here is where she met personal chef Paulo Lobão, whom she later married.

Paulo believed in his wife's commitment to developing her craft and routinely helped her to set up tables at 4 a.m. in Manhattan's open-air market putting up displays for Lobão's jewelry. It was a tough period where unenthusiastic feedback seemed the norm, however, one fateful day changed all of that.

"It was during the winter, just a few months after 9/11. That experience made my husband and me very emotional and reflective. We wanted to leave New York," she recalls. "I wanted to devote myself to doing what I love. One day at the market there was a very beautiful, stylish woman who bought some of my jewelry.

She had a lovely suntan so I knew she wasn't from New York. She was very friendly so I asked her where she was from, and she told me San Antonio, Texas. I knew that was where my family and I were meant to be."

Happily situated in San Antonio by 2003 Lobão was able to infiltrate the wholesale market by agreeing to sell her collection exclusively through the Julian Gold department store. Her friendship with the mother of San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker would prove to be another stroke of destiny.

"Tony's mom brought Eva Longoria to Julian Gold and Eva loved the jewelry. She arranged a meeting with the costume designer for Desperate Housewives." Lobão's lovely jewelry has since been featured on the popular show more than any other jewelry brand name; 18 times over the course of six years.

Currently, Lobão employs a dozen Brazilian artisans to help create her luminous jewelry pieces, which are sold worldwide in over 700 stores spanning Japan, Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, England, and Dubai.

From what I have seen online, not all of her pieces are crochet metal. Her designs run the gamut of smooth, voluptuous sterling silver teardrop earrings to a pair of multi-hoop rhodium earrings.

Her lacy crochet pieces can be very elaborate and haute couture draping or cascading along the upper back and décolleté. To me, lace fabric is eternally sensual and feminine; however, it can also be rather formal, and I think Lobão's crochet pieces are a wonderful extension of that.

A touch of sensuality is easily implemented by wearing 18-karat gold lace on the wrist, earlobes or neck. It is soft, sexy, bold, and classic all at once encompassing Brazil's vivacious energy.

Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Goldie Hawn, and Jessica Simpson are among the loyal followers of Lobão's line. In 2009, she received the Rising Star Award at San Antonio's Fashion Week.

Her exquisite crochet pieces are available online at ShopRumor.com and DivaBellaDesigns.com.
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Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Plated Long Tear Crochet Earrings
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Plated Crochet Cheer-E-Ohs Necklace
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