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Mignon Faget approaches 50 years in fashion 

A Q&A with the designer

click to enlarge The expanded “Petit Animal Crackers” collection, available March 2017. - COURTESTY OF EMERALD GRIPPA, MIGNON FAGET LTD.
  • Courtesty of Emerald Grippa, Mignon Faget Ltd.
  • The expanded “Petit Animal Crackers” collection, available March 2017.

As CUE celebrates a decade in print, we turned to a designer approaching 50 years in the fashion industry for retrospective and advice for the future. Mignon Faget has created silver jewelry and accessories in New Orleans since 1969, when she premiered her first pieces to accessorize her clothing line. She turned her focus to jewelry shortly after and began creating entire collections in silver and gold, based on motifs such as "Sea" and "Heirloom Lace." Over the years, Faget and her designs have reimagined classic patterns in trending shapes and styles.

  Whether using Swarovski pearls (which have an expansive color range and consistent quality) in place of more expensive freshwater pearls to make items more affordable, or translating collection pieces into slender, daintier silhouettes, Faget and the 85 sales, administrative and manufacturing workers Mignon Faget Ltd. employs look for ways to attract collectors old and new.

  A few modernized additions are a set of bar necklaces that pull from collections like "Pylon" and "Textiles," and an expanded line of "Petit Animal Crackers" charms that debut in March.

  Regardless of the collection or price point, each piece of Mignon Faget's silver jewelry is crafted and finished by hand, and 95 percent of monthly production (3,000 to 4,000 pieces) is made at the headquarters on Magazine Street. Faget took a few moments to chat with CUE about preserving the past and innovating for the future.

You've been advertising with CUE since our very first issue. What made you take a chance on a fledgling fashion magazine?

I've always loved supporting local artists and entrepreneurs. At the time, advertising in a local magazine with a focus on home, fashion and beauty seemed like an obvious choice. And I'm so glad we took the chance. CUE has always featured high-quality fashion and home designs, and its aesthetic is very much on par with the Mignon Faget brand.

Do you have a favorite column?

My favorite is Wear + Where. I enjoy reading the in-depth interviews with locals involved in all aspects of fashion and design in New Orleans.

What made you work with silver? What do you love about it?

I made my first jewelry designs ... [from] silver that came from wedding presents that I melted down. I didn't care for those (silver) bonbon dishes themselves, but I suppose they ended up being very important to me. I could distill my ideas into an intimate and lasting form.

click to enlarge Mignon Faget in the production studio - at company headquarters on Magazine Street. - COURTESY OF EMERALD GRIPPA, MIGNON FAGET LTD.
  • Courtesy of Emerald Grippa, Mignon Faget Ltd.
  • Mignon Faget in the production studio at company headquarters on Magazine Street.

To what do you attribute your longevity and success?

We built a company that is dedicated to good design with lasting value that is beautifuly handcrafted in America. The jewelry that we produce is truly timeless and it all starts and ends on Magazine Street. The success of Mignon Faget Ltd. comes directly from the people who we employ and the people who shop with us.

How have you and your business evolved over time?

I keep learning, stay curious and my work remains fresh. I have learned to not always give explicit direction because I like to see what creative people come up with, but in the final decisions and finishing details, I am exacting.

You opened your first design studio/storefront in 1971. What advice would you give to those just starting out in fashion?

[It's] important to know your own strengths and find people to work with who have strengths that can [complement yours]. My advice is know your market and your customers. It is rare that I miss an opportunity to interact with my collectors, whether it's an in-store event, or just reading letters that people write to me about how my jewelry has impacted them.

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