A few years ago, we noticed Sophie Hulme’s sleek, streamlined handbags on the arms of our friends in New York and Paris. We were instantly drawn to the bags’ signature chunky gold hardware: whimsical and fresh with a hint of mod design. A British accessories designer living in London, Sophie’s innate elegance and appreciation of antique jewelry clearly informs her popular and coveted designs.
Over early morning espressos, we met up with Sophie at Stumptown at the Ace Hotel to learn more about her journey as a self-confessed vintage and Art Deco jewelry lover. We were struck by how charming and smart Sophie is, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone witnessing her brand’s sweeping rise. -Jenna Fain for The Stone Set
I’m wearing a Cashmere Brora cardigan, vintage skirt with back pleat, Bionda Castana calf-skin boots (we co-designed these with them for our lookbook), Carven wool jacket and Sophie Hulme tote bag. I think this represents how I normally put things together—I like to pair vintage with new. I love this vintage skirt; the cut is great and I’m using it as the pattern for my bridesmaids’ outfits at the moment.
I’m here for work doing interviews and an intimate press dinner at The Spotted Pig. The response we’ve had to the brand has been really exciting. I’m staying around the corner at the NoMad Hotel with my team. It’s a great convenient location for all the meetings I have set up. I love being in New York…it has such an amazing energy. I am having a quick espresso but normally prefer a good cup of tea.
The brooch is an antique piece I found with my father. He really doesn’t like any other type of shopping and we both find antique jewellery really interesting. It has a citrine in the centre. I love broaches as they can make simple clothes really interesting. I think they are an underestimated type of jewellery.
My bag charm is on an antique watch chain that my Mum gave me for a birthday. The charm is an antique three-colour winding pencil—you push down the different enamelled bands for a different pencil colour. I found this at Bermondsey Antiques Market in London. You have to go super early as it is mainly for traders, so I got an absolute bargain for such an amazing piece. It is very rare and was made around 1890 by Samson Morden, an amazing old manufacturer whose pencils I collect. I love jewellery that has a function like the traditional châtelaines that nurses used to wear- I collect all kinds of things like that.
My taste in jewellery is similar to how I approach design. I go on lots of research trips to vintage places, flea markets and galleries. I collect all sorts of objects which influence my designs. I also always aim to create products that are beautiful yet functional. For instance, our gold plated hardware was first designed to reinforce the handles but these plates have now evolved into an iconic feature of the brand while always retaining their function.
My earrings used to be my Mum’s. She has always worn big hoops and I remember being fascinated by them as a toddler. I rarely wear earrings but when I do I wear big hoops like my Mum! She has inspired a lot of my taste in jewellery by taking me round antiques markets from a young age. She bought these from an independent jeweller in Devon, ‘Lloyd Attree.’ He has some amazing pieces and is a lovely old guy who repairs clocks in the back of his shop all day.
The charm bracelet was a gift from my grandmother on my 21st birthday. She bought it from an antiques fair in Birmingham. She has given me various different charms to add to it over the years. It is antique and solid gold, and incredibly special to me. This inspired the charms that come with the handbags I design. I like the idea of people building up their own collection of bag charms that say something about themselves. I also like the idea of building them into a collection, unlike throwaway fast fashion.
My parents bought the citrine ring and gold link bracelet for me for my 30th birthday. We went and chose them together at Grays Antique Markets in London, one of my favourite ever places. The ring is 40s French and the bracelet 50s English. I love antique jewellery as you can find totally unique pieces—I think they both actually look quite modern. The ring has the most amazing setting. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
My fiancé and I went to choose my engagement ring together. We went to various antique places as we wanted to find something unusual. We found this one from an antique dealer in London called Sheldon Shapiro. It’s a 50s one from London. I often like mid-century design. I just love the way the stone is set—it is almost like it’s floating and you can see the full beauty of the diamond. My fiancé is an architect so it seemed like an appropriate design!
The knot bracelet was a gift from friends for my 30th birthday. It is from Céline. I love this idea of casting a knot in gold: the idea is similar to how I design my charms. I like to make undervalued things in gold so people look at them in a new way. I just think it’s a beautiful piece of design.
My watch is a 60s Rolex that I bought from a watch dealer, Timespec in London. I love beautiful look of the old gold and that it is such a classic beautiful piece of design. I also like that the leather strap means it’s not too flash!
The rectangular diamond ring also used to be my Mum’s. She gave it to me as I loved the design so much. I love the Art Deco look and that it is not too girly. She bought it from her local jeweller in North London who occasionally has really interesting vintage pieces. –Sophie Hulme
Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set