WE CAN BE HEROES
David Bowie said it: “We can be heroes. Just for one day. We can be heroes.” Heroes and heroines are not only the ones saving planet earth or the woman in the end of a Hollywood blockbuster, in world literature or in the magical universe of fairy tales and fables. They are ubiquitous, around us in our daily lives and they can be anyone. Growing up, chances are that your everyday hero was a parent, the always stylish and cool grandmother, the older sister or that one friend whose courage and coolness you admired so deeply. The hero was the guy in school, everyone sighed after, the friend who always rocked those state-of-the-art outfits and the role model teacher, whose dogmas you swore you would live by. Firefighters, human rights activists, people who speak their mind and who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. Women, men, everyone. Throughout life, we are shaped by the people around us and, if we look close enough, we have met quite a few heroes. And in these political times, we need every last bit of them as we mirror our hopes and dreams in them.
With her new spring collection entitled Heroes, Maria Black wishes to celebrate and cherish the heritage she shares with the 99% of us and all the middle class heroes she was surrounded by back then and still have in her life today. Growing up in an urban environment with concrete playgrounds and high rise buildings, the most glamorous thing she could think of was her grandmother’s 1950s dresses and her jewelry box. “I understood that we did not have as much as some, but still more than others. It is the look and feel of that childhood I have tried to capture in the Heroes collection,” Maria Black says. Her origin, heritage and childhood memories have made her aware of the strength of empowerment and diversity - fundamental keywords which characterize her overall jewelry philosophy. Her personal heroes does not live by the rules and they are not afraid of standing out in mass groups. “My heroes today are friends and family who rest in being themselves and have the confidence to follow their gut. They don’t wear capes, but they inspire me and through them I have hopes for a bright future.”
Our personal everyday heroes define us, just as our first true love does. Remember the magical spark, fluttering butterflies, blushing cheeks and the fleeting gazes through a room? There is nothing more powerful, overwhelming and all-consuming than young love with all its flawless features. The world as you know it can stop, because, for now, you are the only two people in it – you notice it spinning around, days are passing by, winter is gone and the endless summer suddenly seems even brighter. You are writing a profane, passionate love story with words signalling a beautiful, naivistic belief that as long as you’re together, you can change the world and nothing, nothing can tear you apart. The Heroes collection is dedicated to those dizzying, vigorous and devouring emotions filled with eternal optimism and the idea that the world is your oyster. To those who hearten, who strive to stand out and who does not give a fuck as to what the world around them thinks. To the new modern day heroes.
The refined silver pieces are well-loved by anyone who favors discreet everyday jewelry with an edge and who love to mix and match new and old. Young lovers meet the grandmothers of the world, the outcome being jewelry with a simplistic, yet exhilarating approach. The collection exudes quiet, unpretentious personality and the minimalist, graphic rings calls to be stacked with similar styles or combined with the heirloom ring closest to your heart. Maria Black’s tough-yet-feminine collection caters to both sexes and is comprised of rings, hoops, ear cuffs, necklaces, bracelets and an anklet. True to style, it strikes the perfect balance between edgy and beautiful, classy and minimalistic to the bone. The dainty, goes-with-everything pieces embodies an effortless approach to dressing up with a playful and conspicuous sensibility, and Heroes stands on the shoulder of the designers previous unisex collections and her distinct idea of gender fluidity. Rather than seeing gender as two seperate poles, Maria Black creates beautiful, androgynous pieces with a wide appeal and a liberating free approach to personal attire. And that is a key concept in her view of the world: It is all about creating your own path, to have the confidence to follow your gut and to put your personal mark of the life you live. Because why limit ourselves to certain preconceived, societal ideas on how to live our lives, when we can look to the people close to us and get inspired by them? It is much more fun to listen to our modern day heroes, who reminds us to follow our dreams and strive for excellence. So look around and go listen to yours.
Maria Black can almost smell her grandparents’ home and hear the sound of the wall clock, counting the seconds with its cons- tant “tic tic tic” from childhood through adolescence. In her new HEROES collection she nostalgically captures those memories and feelings in a modern, sleek and chic manner. The items in the collection are actually named after the grandparents of the Maria Black team to celebrate their original heroes, making it a really personal project. Each piece takes on the personality of names like Esther, Ruby, Tove, Roben, George, Carlo, Auguste and Martinus. I wondered who her personal hero was and how the inspiration shows in the collection, so we had a chat.
HN: What memories came to mind when designing the HEROES collection?
MB: There is real and profound nostalgia present in the HEROES collection. I had these strong memories, not of actual incidents, but memories of the feeling of being a teenager. The anxiety, the excitement, the constant waiting. The seemingly eternal feeling of wanting to grow up, start exploring and spreading your wings. I was reminded of those feelings when at a concert with The Cure in Copenhagen: The sound of Robert Smith’s haunting voice and that distinct guitar took me right back to the memory of me hanging out as a young teenager, sitting on the playground swings pretending to be an adult with a beer can.
HN: What is a hero?
MB: The word HERO means various things to people. To me, this collection is an ode to the middle class heroes. Growing up in the working class, with all its trapping and possibilities, I wanted to celebrate the heritage I share with the majority of the 99%. I understood that we didn’t have as much as some, but still more than others and I remember how glamorous my grandmother’s 1950’s dresses and her jewellery box felt. It is the look and feel of that childhood I have tried to capture in the HEROES collection.
HN: Who is your personal hero?
MB: I strongly believe that to understand the present and to embrace for the future we need to know and understand our heritage. The urban legacy of our youth has laid the foundation for who we are and what we care for. So the heroes that inspired this collection are mainly my grandparents. I spent a lot of time with them and a lot of my designs have been inspired by their home. I was always very aware of their values based around socialism and human rights, and how they looked after their community, friends, family and neighbours. They were not intellectuals in the basic sense of the word, but they were hands down my rock and pillars and I was immensely proud of them.
HN: Wherein lies the importance of having a hero in one’s life?
MB: My heroes today don’t wear capes, but are friends and family who inspire me by resting in being themselves and having the condence to follow their gut. A friend once accidentally gave me the motto, I sometimes use to keep my spirits up. When facing adversity in life her approach is “push push, don’t take no for an answer” and her absolute charm while practising this rather aggressive approach is a joy to watch. is particular instance played out outside a London club one evening, where she managed to persuade the door man to let in a whole group of us, even though the club was full and the queue 12 miles long. His look of exhausted exasperation was just priceless. at’s the basic needs, but she also inspires me to go on when things don’t turn out the way I hoped or planned.
HN: How would you wear the HEROES collection?
MB: I am getting into the more-is-more mode and plan to stack like there is no tomorrow. I will wear single chains with no pendant together with a few other necklaces. e rings are to be worn on multiple ngers, but especially the pinkynger should have a cool ring on it, I think. Actually, dur- ing the Victorian era, both single men and women, who wasn’t interested in pursuing marriage would wear a ring on their left hand little nger. A signet ring engraved with your family crest was generally also worn on the pinkynger, so to me there is real personality in wearing a ring there. I hope that people will mix the items with their own heirlooms and create their own, personal stories.
HN: Can anyone be heroes?
MB: I think so. We can all be heroes in our everyday lives. And honestly, if you feel the need to wear a cape and put your underwear on top of your pants to act it out - why not? It would certainly make for interesting conversation, haha.
HN: The collection is very clean, yet playful, urban and young in its minimalistic approach. How would you describe the collection?
MB: I was inspired by my late grandmothers jewellery box, because I love the mix of old and new, taking our heritage to the present and you clearly see that translated into the HEROES collection. I wear a lot of hoops - nothing is more urban and ghetto, yet it screams “grandmother” and I love how they make you go from señorita to the concrete jungle in a second. Only few other classic designs has the same power as the hoop, I think.