In December of 2014, Ashley Rabin was browsing the aisles of the Newburgh Vintage Emporium, on the hunt for some magical object to interact with. She found what she was looking for in the form of a headband that was handmade by a local artisan. When she took a closer look, she was suddenly inspired as she realized that she could make her own. One headband quickly turned into many, and a new creative endeavor was born.
Around the same time as this sartorial discovery, she also took a workshop at Golden Bridge Yoga in lower Manhattan. If there ever was such a thing as an instruction manual for being human, the seemingly ageless guru had it in her possession. For three and a half hours, the stunning, serene, and occasionally humorous, Siri Sat Kaur led the class through a series of exercises, while explaining their intended effects. Among her morsels of lesser known wisdom, was her description of the energetic aura that emanates from the top of the head, where the crown chakra is located. In the same spot where Rabin had been wearing her latest creations, artists have been painting halos to distinguish the sacred figures in religious paintings.
Another allusion to that same energy are the jeweled tiaras that have been worn by monarchs for centuries, as symbols that their positions have been bestowed upon them by the highest power. But according to the yogic tradition, the ‘light body’ is not strictly the province of the elite or enlightened. It is the source of ‘intuitive knowing,’ which is possible for all human beings to achieve. Rabin believes that it is also where inspiration comes from, and when you tap into it, your work will resonate on multiple levels, like ‘surrendering to the will of your wisest self.’
SUSTAINABLE ACCESSORY DESIGN : RECLAIMED DEERSKIN & VINTAGE JEWELRY
These Gilded-Mane accessories are created with the “zero-waste” ethos in mind, which is one of the pillars of the sustainable fashion movement. The “Reclaimed Leather Collection” is inspired by nature, and these one-of-a-kind pieces are designed for the woman whose sartorial choices are a reflection of her authenticity. The deerskin leather and vintage jewelry are not simply re-purposed, but elevated into a brand new piece of eco-couture. The juxtaposition of oxidized metal and semi-precious stones against the luxurious and supple leather infuses new life into the existing shapes. These versatile and timeless statement pieces defy expectations and are exempt from outdated notions of daytime vs. eveningwear. As three-dimensional sculptures, they epitomize wearable art.
While Gilded-Mane started as a collection of ornate headbands, an ill-fitting leather jacket was the catalyst for this next phase of its evolution. The jacket had poufy sleeves, which were an odd choice for a motorcycle silhouette, so I converted it into an embellished leather vest.
The black leather sleeves then became the foundation for the first Shield Necklace.
Figuring out how to expand the line, while also remaining faithful to the tenets of sustainability, also required some creative problem-solving. Inspired by the Native American practice of “Seven-Generation Stewardship,” I brokered an arrangement with moccasin designer LLoree Dickens of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation).
The influx of colorful deerskin scraps are leftover from her own made-to-order business, and opened up a whole new realm of design possibilities. The Shield Necklace, it turned out, was merely the beginning.