Bumping into trays of crystal beads in Deanna Hamro's jewelry factory, you would never guess her claim to fame. But when she starts showing you the earrings she just made for Oscar de la Renta or the bracelets for Carolyne Roehm, you begin to get the picture.
Twice a year top New York designers send fabric swatches and dress sketches to Hamro's Melrose Avenue address, and she sends back costume jewelry she makes to go with the clothes.
Now she's after a bigger fashion fish. Hamro just mailed a batch of samples to Paris designer Christian Lacroix, to show what she could do for him if he would let her. Huge hoop earrings and fuchsia-color crystal-ball earrings were part of the package.
Part of Spring Collection
Whether he goes for the goods or not, she'll add them to her new spring collection, she says, as she does with her designs for Roehm, De la Renta and the others.
Earrings and bracelets that make you feel like a fashion model, that's part of their mystique. Hamro's style has always had a big, bold, fashion-runway scale. So much so that she has to cut it back a bit for a Tokyo department store on her customer list. "Japanese women are so small and delicate," she explains.
This spring she's gone beyond bold, with color as bright as stoplights. She got the idea rummaging through her own closet. "I go in there and can't find anything but black clothes," she says. To accent them, she made her spring jewelry in tropical turquoise, orange and blue paved crystal.
She's a native of California and grew up in San Clemente, but her dark, shoulder-length hair gives her an exotic look that's not typically beachy. She has the native way of ambling casually through a conversation, though, and keeping it light.
'Fun and Playful'
"I think we're ready for things that are fun and playful," she says. "We're tired of dressing too seriously. For a couple of years now we've had to do it, to look chic."
Her jumbo jewelry makes it very tempting to overdo the fun, so she keeps an informal list of what not to do, in case anybody should ask.
--Wearing glitzy jewelry with gold lame is too much, even if you're going to the Oscars.
--Big flower-shape, sparkler earrings with a big-flower-print dress are much too much--"way over the top."
--Rhinestones with daytime suits (Hamro's suits are by Chanel) are the worst. She says she's thankful she "doesn't see people doing that."
Last fall she opened her first boutique, in Bullocks Wilshire at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. In March, the store will carry her first collection of evening handbags. They are made of silk moire and velvet with satin cording in colors as bold as her jewelry.