Just a year after 911 turned New York City upside down, Ted Wertz found himself laid off from a lucrative job in software at a Fortune 500 company due to company downsizing. Out of the sheer boredom of being out of work for a few months, Wertz started to cut up a suede leather belt that he found in the closet of his Manhattan apartment and crafted them into bracelets. Like many aspiring fashion designers and artists of the past and present in New York City, he started to sell his one-of-a-kind pieces on the corners of West Broadway and Prince Street in SoHo. Not long after, an acquaintance that worked for a luxury wholesale accessory showroom ran into his booth. She was so taken by Ted’s creations that she insisted on representing him and signed him on the spot. DKNY was Ted’s first customer and the company has never looked back. “Something good came out of something bad,” says the designer. His start in fashion by sheer chance has turned into a successful luxury accessories empire with a tremendous celebrity following which includes some of the most celebrated women including Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Fergie to name a few. The Ted Rossi brand (named after the company’s co-founders Ted Wertz and Sebastian Rossi) offers a scintillating collection of accessories including jewelry and handbags made from decadent materials from python to alligator skins embellished with glittering accents such as Swarovski crystals and semiprecious gemstones. “I was one of the first designers to take exotic skins and fuse them with other media such as Swarovski elements for jewelry,” says Wertz who openly shares his disdain for poorly made costume jewelry. “Sure, leather accessories have existed from way back, but no one had ever really focused on creating jewelry from exotic skins as their niche. I became completely fascinated by python especially and just found the patterns, colors, and scaly-quality to be completely captivating. Right away, I started making bracelets from them, and they were an instant success. Further down the line, I was thinking of ways to expand on the bracelets, and the idea came to me to embellish the skins with crystals. The fusion of these two materials is simply magical, and now, snakeskin and crystals have become the signature look of the Ted Rossi collection and it has just taken off,” he says. Ted’s collection of python bangles, metallic clutches and sleek eel skin cuffs (all proudly made in the USA) are heavily inspired by the city. “Living in New York City is a dream for a designer in many ways, but mostly because you can find inspiration from the dynamics of the City everywhere, from the architecture and street culture to graffiti in the subway. It’s a truly fascinating place,” says the designer. “NYC women are definitely very sophisticated, but have that edgy quality which set them apart from Paris, London, etc. They aren’t afraid to take a risk and have fun with fashion, which is the way it should be. Fashion should be fun…” he adds. His love for New York women is not just one sided. Some of the most celebrated New York fashion personalities herald Rossi as their accessories designer of choice. Casey Kettleson, StyledOn’s Creative and Editorial Director has been a loyal patron of Ted Rossi’s confections for years. “I probably own about 25 bangles and cuffs from Ted Rossi in all sizes, skins, pleated silk, tie dyed; a python & crystal pendant chain necklace; one tie dyed small ‘jet set’ hobo and a large toffee leather satchel with pewter square studded details. Everything is impeccably made and allows the woman to shine. The materials they use are painstakingly selected and the placement of each crystal is beyond scrutinized,” says Kettleson. Another New York glamazon, Pamela Pekerman the on-air spokesperson for retailers TJ Maxx and Marshalls and a contributing columnist for AOL’s StyleList.com has also been donning the exotic and glamourous collection stating enthusiastically, “Ted and Sebastian have taken what could have been a small concept –python bangles – and they continuously kick it up a notch. Whether it’s a new size, a new material or a new creation all together, these guys are on the cusp of what’s hot. They are trendsetters and luxury makers. This could have been a one season, hot-ticket item. Instead they are continuously evolving and thus always in demand by celebrities, editors and consumers” says Pekerman. Maybe Ted Rossi’s ability to tune into what’s haute from the street to the catwalk is the key to the brand’s immense success. “I get inspiration from so many things for my collections. Usually, it is tied to something that I have seen or heard recently that excites me. For example, while beginning to design the Fall 2010 Collection, I was listening to Rihanna’s new album. I loved the intense and edgy tone of the songs, in particular the song “Hard”. The video came out, and it was very militaristic in slant. This inspired me to do a whole Collection of military jewelry and handbags, which was a huge success,” says Wertz. Or maybe it is the versatility of Ted Rossi jewelry that is electrifying when paired with everything from a Hervé Leger bandage dress to a pair of J Brand skinny jeans. What ever the algorithm may be, it has definitely got us in a glamourous daze of snakeskin, crystals and a little Edge. (Originally Published in LX Report, Singapore )
Snakeskin, Crystals and a Little Edge, Ted Rossi’s Algorithm For Glamour
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