When Iniye Tokyo James decided to expand his burgeoning fashion empire to include fine jewellery, a collaborator on the same conceptual wavelength was critical, especially on the back of a stellar year that included being an LVMH Prize finalist. Fortunately, fate brought him Chuks Uzorh of UWR, an independent fine jewellery house based in Mayfair.
“We might be two different people, but we actually have a singular voice,” James tells Vogue. “His vision aligned with mine. He got it – it was almost like he understood what I was saying before I said it.” The debut collection launched at Milan Fashion Week is entitled “Innate” and is an audacious and complex ode to the African rove beetle, amongst other things.
Using the beetle’s form as a central motif for the earrings, pendant, neckpiece, ring and bangle acts as a love letter to resilience and an exploration of commonality. “The beetle is special to me because it is such an underdog, in the insect world. It’s the only creature in the world that can lift 50 times the weight of its own body,” explains James.
The humble beetle takes a seat at the jewellery table in either recycled silver or 18-carat yellow gold and set with an array of gemstones from white sapphires, tsavorites, tourmalines and green garnets to black onyx, emeralds, and white and black diamonds. Many a jewellery house, especially of the heritage variety, have a lengthy history in creating animalia pieces, but in Uzorh’s hands the array of gemstones used is an opportunity to “give people a different option to what they are normally going to see everywhere.”