If ever there were a Kathmandu hometown style hero, Nepalese artist and jewelry designer Arpana Rayamajhi might just be the woman. The 28-year-old New York City transplant, who possesses a colorfully chic Instagram feed and an equally vibrant line of accessories inspired by her birthplace, certainly serves as a creative style envoy for the South Asian country. Whether donning an allover rainbow-bright printed madras ensemble, layering a black moto jacket with intricately beaded and feathered necklaces, or posting throwback images to her account of Nepalese women festooned with gilded septum rings and strands upon strands of jewelry, Rayamajhi showcases not only her command of color but a striking balance of ethnic traditions and Western urban style. Here, the stunning globe-trotter reveals how her creative upbringing and the older generations of Nepalese women inspire her worldly, modern look.
I grew up in Nepal surrounded by patterns and color—a huge part of celebrations, festivities, and religious rituals there. But it was only after living in New York for a couple years that I really started wearing a lot of color. Having some distance from home and seeing it from a different perspective led me to incorporate pieces not just from Nepal but elsewhere too. And as my clothes got more colorful, I started wearing a lot more jewelry—hair ornamentations, beads, silver and gold jewelry.
The Ultimate Style Inspo
Ethnic women in Nepal look so incredibly ornate, I can’t help but be influenced in every possible way. Each ethnic group in Nepal is distinctly different from one another and we all look original. It’s also a dying culture now that more and more people are adopting Indian saris or a more modern, Western wardrobe—which in their own way are very beautiful, too. That phenomenon is happening around the world and it seems unstoppable, but it makes me so sad to see that spirit of identity and adornment take a very homogenous form. So I wear a lot of things that are very specific to certain cultures because there are so many beautiful things the world has to offer.
All in the Mix
I mix mostly jewelry and accessories from Nepal and elsewhere with the clothes I buy mainly in New York City and Tokyo. The jewelry has a traditional sensibility and the clothes are more modern in some ways: a mix of thrift and vintage finds and smaller designers, along with ethnic or quirky jewelry from my own line or my travels. Summer of 2015 was a lot of traveling for me. I was in Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and then I took off for Europe and drove around France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. I bought some lava rocks in Indonesia, and then some of the best vintage things I have, I bought in Japan. Even the thrift stores are incredibly clean, curated, and a fun experience. Japan always inspires me with its originality and craziness, and Mexico is a psychedelic wonderland in and of itself with the beads, colors, and amazing clothes.
My dad was making a lot of drawings and paintings but had to get a job to support his family. My mother was an actor; she was especially detail-oriented and loved clothes, jewelry, and art. It was encouraged in my family, so I always had ideas and was making things. Living and going to art school in New York City introduced a whole new understanding of a different culture and aesthetics.
Enter Arpana Jewels
I graduated Cooper Union in 2015. I’d done mainly paintings, drawings, and sculptures, but the jewelry line started when I was still in school and looking for pieces that were unique. That made me start making my own and in 2014 I founded my jewelry line, Arpana Jewels. It’s all one-of-a-kind pieces influenced by ethnic-pop culture, rock ’n’ roll, death, and humor. My first series, The Melancholy Death of the Urchin Girl, is inspired by Tim Burton’s book The Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy. My second series is Wanderlust, inspired by Björk’s song of the same name. Skulls are huge symbols in my work, and so is humor; I like to play on words with my titles. I’m in the process of releasing new work where I address sociopolitical and environmental issues; it’s called Have a Heart.
The Secret to Layering Jewelry
There is never such a thing as too much jewelry—well, at least not in my world. The way I go about layering my jewels is just by picking what I have and putting them together; it’s not systematic. I think that’s why it works. I don’t have any specific go-to pieces or accessories because everything is always rotating. It’s a game, and so it has to be fun.
The post How an Instagram Style Star’s Colorful Nepalese Roots Inspire Her Jewelry Line appeared first on Vogue.
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