Vicki Sarge matches her unique artistry with gold and gemstones to create a new line of jewelry
Vicki Sarge has a fan base that spans from pop royalty (Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith) to style icons (Kate Moss, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker). She has collaborated with designers including Raf Simmons, Roberto Cavalli, Jil Sander, Dries van Noten and John Galliano, and AF Vandervorst. She even has her own name brand with the aesthetic input of veteran tastemaker Brooke Metcalfe (formerly of d’Ocampo).
"It’s all about self expression. Women of style are women of style. No matter who they are."
And that’s just in her professional life. Her inner circle includes Vogue editor Hamish Bowles, to whom she donated her plethora of vintage Galliano for his couture archive, and milliner Stephen Jones, who will be joining Sarge for a trip to explore Madrid after the shows are over this season. But it is professional collaborations that keep her the most busy, especially as Sarge and Metcalfe have converted the former jewelry boutique Erickson Beamon on London’s Elizabeth Street into a store for her line, VICKISARGE.
Kooky and lyrical, Sarge is known for her 1950s spectacles, eye-catching jewelry (sometimes her own, frequently Marie Helene de Taillac) and vintage dresses. The basis of her creative ideas bears back to a culturally colorful youth in Detroit, where she was surrounded by vintage fashion and progressive music (Iggy Pop once played at her Catholic high school), and where she nurtured her love of craft early on. “I started teaching myself embroidery and knitting at 12,” says Sarge. “I never went to a jewelry school.” After high school, Sarge spent time in London and Hong Kong before heading back to Detroit, and eventually moving to New York.
Fast forward a decade or two when Sarge met Metcalfe through a mutual friend. From the moment they met, Sarge recalls, “it has been all systems go.” With her background in interiors and art, Metcalfe has been closely involved in the look and feel of the VICKISARGE branding, the packaging (she taught herself to set crystals in the workshop downstairs), and the actual construction of the store, which was built by a couple of stage designers: “Two guys from East London. I would verbalize and they would build,” says Metcalfe, who also commissioned red and purple display pieces by artist Oriel Harwood so the store feels as much like a gallery installation space as it does a boutique. “I always wanted the front to look like a gallery—elevated, beautiful, artistic.”
Sarge adds, regarding the team’s creative process: “It’s all about self-expression. Women of style are women of style. No matter who they are.” Which explains why she maintains a broad target group. She looks to Anna Wintour’s daughter Bee Shaffer for inspiration as much as Downton Abbey’s octogenarian grande dame Maggie Smith. “People who work hard—that’s the kind of person I most admire, where there is a need in someone to do something.”
"What I think I am good at is being open to someone else’s point of view. I go into their head and feel what they want, and kind of intuitively try to figure it out."
The same could be said of Sarge. Her work ethic and willingness to collaborate is what defines her, and has largely contributed to her success—a lack of wanting to control, and instead using readily available ideas and materials to then make them her own. “What I think I am good at is being open to someone else’s point of view. I go into their head and feel what they want, and kind of intuitively try to figure it out.”
VICKISARGE is an eclectic line featuring jewels and gems and baubles from all over: “We have North Africa—a bit of Talitha Getty, then Victorian, 1940s Joan Crawford and old Hollywood,” she says of the various pieces in her collection. “And I always go back to Tennessee Williams.” Other running themes in her designs include gothic novels, the Georgian period and churches (“especially their chandeliers – I see an upside down earring!”). That global outlook has always been a key component in her work, and she intends to explore it further with the new brand. “There are so many places to discover—and at each place, to discover what you can bring back—that will be part of the ethos of the brand.” For Sarge, work and play seem to blend into an effortless mix of journey and inspiration. Does she ever run out of ideas? “No,” she says. “Ideas are never something I get stuck on.”
Editor’s Note: Main image features Vicki Sarge (l) and Brooke Metcalfe (r) in the new VICKISARGE shop in London.