Law may be Reagan Charleston's main career path, but a keen sense of style and artistry is deeply embedded in her heritage. The Southern Charm New Orleans budding attorney comes from a long lineage of artists, she told The Lookbook: "My grandparents had a copper sculpture gallery and my mom has an art degree. She worked her entire life alongside my grandparents and they all made copper sculptures and different pieces of metal art together."
Eventually, this family legacy and a trip abroad led the New Orleans native to launch Reagan Charleston Jewelry. "When I was traveling for study abroad [as an undergrad], I saw things that I wanted to turn into jewelry. And it occurred to me that I did have that creative side, but I didn’t tap into it," she shared. After seeing the exact same sources of inspiration on another trip back to Florence five years later, Reagan decided she wanted to design her first piece of jewelry: "I came home, I found a wax artist, I sketched out the Leone design, and I had it made. Within a few weeks of wearing it, I had people asking me how they could order it and what boutiques carried it. And this all happened in a matter of weeks."
Reagan shares the inspiration behind her bold designs, plus her top style tips with The Lookbook below.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
Reagan Charleston: My entire line is heritage-inspired. Also, going to Europe you see a lot of that classic architecture. When I began to travel at 18 and 19-years-old, I realized that New Orleans is unlike any other city in the United States. We have such European influence and not just in our architecture, but in our art, people, and cuisine. When I design a piece of jewelry I’m inspired by things that I’ve seen traveling, things I see at home, and different pieces of art that my grandparents have created.
A lot of your pieces feature animals. What do animals represent to you?
My grandparents’ gallery in the French Quarter had a gate with two lions on each side, like they were guarding the courtyard. As a child, [the lions] were so magical to me, and I’m also a Leo. So, anything that has to do with lions, I’m just fascinated with. The lion embodies strength, power, and bravery. I always like to think about the emotions an animal really brings about. I look toward nature because animals are beautiful and they provide such a wonderful canvas for an idea and you can really expand from it.
Do you have a personal favorite piece of jewelry from your collection?
It would be so hard because they’re like children — it would be like picking a favorite child. Everything I create I want to be perfect. Every piece of jewelry [represents] a moment in my life. Each design represents something that I’m feeling at the time, a place that I've been, or a relationship — it's very personal. I can look back at my collections and see what was going on in my life depending on how bold or minimalistic the design is.
What is the one piece of jewelry every woman have in their wardrobe?
Every woman needs an everyday statement piece. I think that over the past several years women have felt like they had to scale down, and jewelry has become so minimalistic that you can’t tell who designed what. I remember meeting with fashion blogs in New York City in 2012 and over and over again they were telling me [my pieces] needed to be smaller, but I was seeing that women were responding to [my designs]. I was finding that women really wanted to make a statement with their jewelry. They wanted to wear something beautiful that can be worn with a suit, a t-shirt, or an evening gown. When I put my Leone necklace on in the morning, it’s like my strength and power. And I have so many of my clients tell me that their pieces are their good luck charms. It’s like their bravery totem.
Which Bravoleb would you love to design a piece for?
I love Kyle Richards' style. She always wears a statement piece or has big fabulous [accessories] on, and I admire how bold she is.
Who's your style icon?
It just depends on my mood. On different days I go in different directions. If I’m working and I’m going to court or if I have a meeting with attorneys, I always think of Amal Clooney. Amal is who I want to channel when I’m doing something professionally. If it’s more of a casual business affair, Meghan Markle has that nailed. She’s just got it right now. On the weekends though, it's Jennifer Lopez. Her stylists are so wonderful. I love how she always has this bronze glow and she's not afraid to accentuate her shape. She doesn’t follow your typical fashion rules, she just does what’s right for her fabulous physique and she’s not afraid of color or sparkle.
What fashion trend are you obsessed with right now?
I really love that the ‘90s are back. I just love the high-waisted [look] and crop tops, and the strappy shoes. Oh, and the small sunglasses that everybody is wearing.
Are there any beauty secrets or fashion tips that have been passed down through your family?
In my family, it’s lipstick. I cannot leave the house without my mom saying, "Put on some lipstick." That’s been going on from the time I was old enough to wear lipstick. I don’t know if it’s a southern thing, but with my mom and my grandma, nothing was going to happen that day until they at least had lipstick on. And my great-grandmother was the same way. They always wear a nude pink lipstick. I have also picked up on that because the YSL lipstick I have right now in my purse is basically the exact color my grandmother wore.
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