photography Nicole Franzen / words Chandara Phanachone
Whether it was a single ostrich feather or an elaborate plumed crown, the ancient Egyptian deities wore headdresses as symbols of their pre-ordained powers, while pharaohs donned ceremonial head cloths to represent their power, status, and wealth. Over three thousand years later, headpieces still hold an important place for many brides on one of the most important days of her life. As a statement piece that has become a means for a bride to express her sense of fashion and individuality, choosing a headpiece should not be a mere afterthought.
Lucky for us, there are designers such as Jennifer Behr whose ability to intricately craft the most exquisite line of luxury hair accessories from mixed metals and Swarovski crystals has become a favorite among brides and celebrities including Charlize Theron and Anne Hathaway. Upon returning from showing her Fall 2015 collection during Paris’ couture fashion week, we sit down with the famed designer to learn more about her inspiration behind her eponymous brand.
GM: Take us to the years before you launched your company in 2005. At the start of your career, you were designing hair accessories for renowned hair stylist, Frédéric Fekkai. How did that experience shape you into becoming the designer that we all know of today?
JB: Working at a luxury company owned by Chanel gave me incredible insight into the luxury goods market. In the luxury market, there is such a huge focus on quality of materials and workmanship – both of which are incredibly important to me. I also learned about working with professional hair stylists to gather input about what types of pieces would work well on the head. When designing for the head, you have to think about balance, proportions, and weight; it’s all very architectural, and the feedback from these hair stylists proved invaluable when I launched my brand.
GM: Have you always been interested in design? Where do you find sources of inspiration, and what has been the most rewarding part of your work?
JB: I have a background in sculpture and art history. Design is essentially the art of beautiful problem-solving. I come from a family of problem solvers; my grandfather, father and brother were all engineers. My greatest source of inspiration is still the process of creating where I sit down every season in front of a table full of materials and start making things. The inspiration for the collection grows from this moment. And of course, I love vintage jewelry and the amazing history of headpieces through the ages.
GM: What would you consider the defining characteristic(s) of a Jennifer Behr piece? Why?
JB: At Jennifer Behr, the design and quality are paramount. Design always come first – our brides are very fashion forward and are looking for a headpiece that is as elegant as any fashion piece they would wear. Secondly, we value quality construction. Cheaper headpieces are [usually] made in a mold, and cast in metal with glued-in rhinestones. We don’t use molds. Our crystals are all soldered together individually so that they will sparkle more brilliantly; this process makes our pieces lighter and more comfortable to wear. We also custom make our bandeaux so they are flexible and lightweight.
GM: What advice you would give to a bride who is considering incorporating a hair accessory into her wardrobe?
JB: What you wear on your head at your wedding is what sets you apart as the bride, and it will be remembered for years to come in all your wedding portraits. Buy something special—find a headpiece that is a beautiful, elegant version of yourself. We get a lot of brides that are wearing non-traditional dresses—in this case the headpiece is even more important to define you as the bride. Consider the proportion of the piece when it is on your head; it should be big enough to be seen but not so overwhelming. Make sure to coordinate it with your jewelry. Also consider the quality and fit of the piece; it needs to be light enough for you to wear the entire day.