With the Emmys now over, we know there is a new record set for the most awarded TV show in all history – and the winner is… ”Game of Thrones”. No show can be so great without a lot of passion from all the members of its team. I talked a few weeks ago to Michele Carragher, who did the embroidery for all those fantastic costumes. This is an interview with Yunus & Eliza, another couple of talented artists, brought to the show to create those wonderful neck sculptures that remind us all Daenerys Targaryen is the Mother of Dragons. Here are their answers and – best of all, the necklaces are for sale here, but, quite understandably, there is a long waiting list.
How did Yunus meet Eliza?
In a foundry in West London.
Your creative story started with the Poseidon ring – which is said to be an ”accidental creation”. How did the ”accident” happen?
We didn’t intend to make a ring, rather a small sculpture, that we hollowed out from the back to make less heavy, and it was then a natural step to put a finger through….
You were already making noise in the fashion circles back in 2011, with your wearable sculptures, when you won Designer of the Year during London Jewellery Week. Yet looking back, that was only the beginning. How was your cooperation with Fyodor Golan? I confess I have never seen jewellery worn that way. Was it his brief or your idea?
It was great working with Fyodor and Golan, it was the start of a friendship. Actually they made my (Eliza’s) wedding dress. They gave us the brief to make face jewellery, and we interpreted it into face sculptures in the Yunus & Eliza style, we worked closely with them to create the right look for their show.
How did the Royal Barge project come to life?
The team doing it needed more expert mould makers…
You mention cire perdue as a favourite manufacturing technology, why is that?
It is an ancient casting technique, the Greeks and Romans used it. It is a very fine science that needs to be followed correctly over many stages, but equally the mistakes that happen have often been very creative for us. For example we poured the wax too cold in our first Poseidon Ring, which gave him a look of having been pulled from the sea, long lines and cracks running down his face like rivulets.
Your cooperation with Hollywood and Game of Thrones reminds me of the fact that some of Rene Lalique’s most beautiful pieces were made for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. How comfortable do you feel when working with the film industry? Does it allow you to take your creativity to new levels or does it confine you to a brief that fits the script?
We love working on films. The pace is very fast which can be the only frustration but also a lot of fun. There is so much energy and actually having a strong brief can be a great way to work.
How did you meet Michele Clapton? Did her focus on jewellry help you in working with her?
We met Michele during her season 5 prep when her team approached us. Yes she has an incredible eye and for detail, the whole look matters and the jewellery is not an after thought but an integral part of an ensemble. It informs and empowers her characters.
Did you meet with Emilia Clarke prior to creating her jewellery? How did she react when she first saw what was to become her signature neck sculpture as Daenerys Targaryen?
We met her as we were creating it, for fittings. She loved it. We’ve just fit her for an amazing piece for season 7.
Your “mother of dragons” neck sculpture is now available to purchase, with a waiting time of 14 weeks. I am particularly glad that this wonderful piece will be available in its original material (silver), made by its original creators and not as a cheap resin copy for role playing. Yet it is, I imagine, quite difficult to manufacture. How many orders have you received so far? How do you cope with this level of popularity?
We can’t share numbers, but there is a long wait for a reason!
How does your creative partnership work? Who does what in the Yunus&Eliza team?
We share all designing and making of the master copies, then play to our strengths with the rest of the work that surrounds having a brand.
You also make bespoke pieces – how does that work? Do you talk to your clients and jointly come up with an idea? Are you open to any suggestions from them?
It really depends on the client, some come with an idea, and others come needing more direction, but it’s always important the client feels and is involved. It can take us out of our usual aesthetic but that can be interesting.
Many of your pieces look dark and romantic. Do you have any historical references, any jeweller from the past that you particularly admire?
Not so much jewellers but many sculptors, like the Baroque sculptor and architect Bernini. We are inspired by people who had a complete vision.
What’s next for Yunus & Eliza? After the successful cooperation with Game of Thrones, do you feel a pressure to move to a new direction?
No pressure, we are in a strong position and can chose where we head next, we have constantly been evolving. It’s important to get the balance between staying true to our visions and rolling with life.
Do you see yourself turning into a major global brand and create fashion items or prefer to remain in the artistic realm, stick to limited editions and have complete control over the manufacturing process?
We can do it all. We’ve always resisted boxing ourselves in.
You’ve done jewellery and you’ve done sculpture – which of the two do you prefer?
In a way we see these as the same thing. But we do love working on a large scale. We have been doing some huge chandeliers for clients, which is another discipline again, but in essence they are all about form and resonance.
What would you say is the essence of the brand Yunus & Eliza?
Distilling the monumental.