Leigh Maxwell Captures Camouflage in a Capsule
Designer Jennifer Maxwell spent a year developing a collection that uses a mix of diamonds and gemstones to elevate the pattern.
Having grown up in the Midwest, Jennifer Maxwell, the designer behind Leigh Maxwell, gets it. “That’s the Iowa perspective as well; I’m in the middle of deer-hunting country.”
But there are other perspectives too, one of camouflage-as-fashion—which Maxwell says she sees all over Los Angeles, where her jewelry is made—and of appealing to luxury consumers who’ve sought a different sort of life since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19, Maxwell noted, caused some people to relocate from crowded urban locations to wide open spaces like Big Sky, Montana, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, bringing more customers to luxury retailers like Belle Cose, which has stores in both places.
Leigh Maxwell does well in both those locations, with Maxwell creating a Teton charm exclusively for Belle Cose that sells “non-stop,” store owner Jane Carter-Getz told Couture.
Inspired by time spent in the national parks out West, Maxwell also has made a couple of hand-carved elk pendants that have sold at both stores.
“For me, [camo] just kind of seemed like a natural leap and I hadn’t seen it done in fine jewelry,” the designer said.
To start, Maxwell leaned into the greens of fall, sourcing gorgeous green sapphires and tourmalines, and then spent a year in a Goldilocks-esque phase of development. She had to try out numerous sizes and patterns for the collection, called simply “Camo,” to get it just right.
If the pattern was too small, it wouldn’t read like camouflage.
When the size was right, there was the matter of balancing texture and color so the pieces were recognizable as camouflage without being too literal.
“It had to feel right for her,” explained Beth Ann Bonanno of The Gems Project, the luxury brand development agency that represents Maxwell. “I could like it or [someone else] could like it but, as always, it had to connect to the designer.”
“Camo can be read a lot of different ways by a lot of different people. It had to be set right and the colors had to be right,” she said.
“It was very important to me that it did feel like luxury.”
Accompanying the main stars of the Camo collection—the elegant earrings, slim cuff, and the designer’s signature heart, which is a cornerstone of her brand—are what Maxwell refers to as the “supporting cast members,” the hand-carved acorn pendants and pinecone earrings.
There are also the pieces she created previously that can be interpreted as camo-adjacent, like the elk pendant.
The Leigh Maxwell camo capsule collection soft-launched this fall via a series of trunk shows, making stops in stores including Neiman Marcus, Elizabeth Anthony in Houston, Marissa Collections and GemBox in Boston.
This week, Maxwell and her team will head west from the brand’s headquarters (and her home) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Belle Cose in Big Sky and Jackson Hole to show the Camo collection there for the first time.
In Las Vegas at the Couture show this summer, retailers will have a chance to see, buy and order it for their stores.
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