Press on brothers Demian & Alex Vazquez and their jewelry designs.
Demian and Alex, Brothers’ Boutique with a Silver Lining
BY AMBER GROCE
Talk about making a statement from bold sterling crosses and rosaries to colorful stone bracelets, tradition meets edge with D&A’s line of jewelry.
Demian and Alex Vasquez are the backbone of D&A jewelry. Their Latin heritage is the source of their inspiration. Demian and Alex first created the concepts of D&A jewelry back in 2001 in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. With rough sketches in hand, they met with master silversmith who had a small production shop in San Miguel.
“We talked about what we wanted the collection to be and we were both completely on the same page.” Alex said, “Demian & Alex has been our passion since then and we’re certainly blessed to get to do this for a living.”
The brother are hands-on owners of the company, each bringing something different to the brand. While Alex’s strengths lie in design sketching and rendering. Demian has an eye for design and fabrication. "If we had to pick one favorite thing about designing jewelry. I guess it would be holding the finished fabricated design in your hand." Alex said. "From an idea to rough sketches, to a forged piece of silver or gold in your hands. It’s an incredible culmination of an idea or concept."
In their first Austin Fashion Week appearance. D&A walked away with “Best Overall Designer 2011”. This people’s choice award is one of the most prestigious honors during the week. D&A was also voted ‘Best Men’s Designer’ by its peers. Celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Williams have already hopped on the D&A bandwagon.
"AFW was such a great experience for the both of us and we learned a lot." Alex said. “We also met so many incredibly creative and wonderful people, like our entire mash-up team "Bella Corazon." The event was amazing and we were both in complete shock when "Demian & Alex" was read for winner of the "best designer" award. I still can’t remember what we said when we walked up on stage to accept that coveted golden boots.” (dandabothers.com)
Their edgy designs, with flares of gems, are inviting to both men and women. D&A’s current line at Eliza Page features cocktail rings starring stones like lavender aelanite and white pearl, as well as dog tags with green amethyst and turquoise accents. So what can we expect from the upcoming collection? "More big and chunky sterling chains, pendants can expect a new, extensive line of earrings in sterling silver, diamonds and brilliantly cut stones in all shapes, sizes and colors that embrace our edgy aesthetic."
D&A jewelry can be purchased at Eliza Page and Austinites can expect more designs from Demian and Alex. And the brothers have no plans to leave. "Love the culture, the people, the music and the beautiful town itself." Alex said. "There is so much of everything here. We’ve been here since 1992 and we have no plan to leave – ever. We love this weird little town of Austin, Texas." (dandabrothers.com)
Cocktail rings that are pretty sweet
Quiet beauty with hard edges is the defining balance of the Austin-based Demian & Alex (www.DandABrothers.com) jewelry collection. Dubbed D&A, the male- and female-friendly accessories line consists of everything from earrings, necklaces and bracelets, to belt buckles, rosaries and dog tags. Incorporating elements of yellow, white and rose gold, pave diamonds, sapphires and sterling silver, brothers Demian and Alex Vazquez pride themselves in creating an eclectic mix with both Latin and Southwestern undertones. Recently voted "best overall designer" and "best men's designer" at Austin Fashion Week. D&A's newest endeavor is a line of colorful cocktail rings, aptly named "dulce" (candy) because of the smattering of ultra-colorful and brilliant faceted stones. Collection prices range from $200 to $2,200. Available at Eliza Page, 229 W. Second St. 474-6500, www.elizapage.com.
Mix bold and sensual with a pinch of divinity and you have Demian & Alex Vazquez that is not for the fainthearted. Wear one piece - say, the rose gold, diamond-encrusted Sophia fang - and everything else you have on becomes a mere backdrop for this scene stealer. Alex, a former graphic designer, starts with a rough sketch and then transfers it to a computer to refine the details. Demian, with his jewelry training, gets to work on the fabrication. The brothers' Mexican heritage is felt throughout their collections, whether it's the Santo minitag or a handcrafted Divinity bracelet with a sacred heart and roses.
At Sloan/Hall in Houston and San Antonio and dandabrothers.com
How long have you been in Austin?
we were born in Guadalajara; grew up in Santa Fe, new Mexico; and have lived in Austin for the past fifteen years.
Where did you learn about jewelry design?
Our mother is a fashion designer and has her own self-named boutique in Santa Fe, Char. One of our aunts is an industrial designer. She has designed shoes for Reebok and Nike and was the head of design for men's accessories at the Gap. Our other aunt is a photographer and recently had thousands of her photographs inducted into the Smithsonian. Needless to say, creativity runs deep in our veins.
How did you get your own business started?
we began with our sterling collection, Sanctuary, and naturally transitioned into fine jewelry, which is our Fortuno collection. We love the edgier, rock and roll look when it comes to jewelry, and that's evident in both collections.
we can be inspired by so many different things. We find inspiration in each other as brothers, and that's mainly how the creative process takes a place for us. One of us will have an idea and will bounce it off of the other, and before we know it, it has taken on a life of its own. we definitely have the same vision of where our jewelry is as a collection and where we see it in the future.
What brought the religious references into your work?
Well, they're intended to be spiritual rather than religious in nature. We want our customer to feel a special connection with the pieces they are wearing, and that's why we use so many recognizable icons, such as the sacred heart or the skull.
What are your favorite pieces?
Alex: We both love the Sancturay collection, as it is our first. So Demian will usually wear the sterling and 18-karat-gold Santo bracelet. I personally wear our newer Koi cuff, which was hand carved and cast in sterling silver.
Alex: A slew of different music, from Paul Simon to Citizen Cope to John Digweed. I have an appreciation for just about every type of music, as music production is a hobby of mine.
Demian: Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews and Aerosmith.
Favorite place to eat in Austin:
We like supporting our local businesses, so we love Chuy's and Shady Grove.
Favorite place to eat in Mexico:
We really enjoy eating at all of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in San Miguel. You get the best authentic Mexican that way. Also, just about any taco stand on the side of the street will do.
paved with good intentions
When I happened upon D&A Designs, a jewelry line created by brothers Damien and Alex Vasquez, a couple of years ago, I was drawn to the edgy style and hand craftsmanship. I had to have a divinity tag - a dog tag necklace featuring a skull, rose and wings - and can't help but feel a little bit like a rock star every time I wear it. So, I was excited to see that the newest collection, Fortuna, takes the brand's cool style and adds a healthy does of glamour. Graduating from the sterling silver and 18K gold of their previous Sanctuary collection, the brothers are now working with pave diamonds, sapphires, and yellow, white and rose gold. The young company of just four years already has a notable list of celebrity clients, including Jada Pickett Smith, Robin Williams, Val Kilmer and Pierce Brosnan. Add to that Texan Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks who recently picked up the Fortuna 7 and Sophia Fang at a stop into Eliza Page in Austin. Launching later this year is a collection featuring larger diamonds, 22K gold and enamels, as well as a line of belt buckles made of sterling silver and 18K gold with the same kick of rock and roll that all D&A pieces possess. This talented Austin duo is definitely one to watch. Just as likeable as they are talented, I predict good things for D&A - a bright, sparkling future.
--Elaina J. Martin
exposed | alex vazquez
founder & lead designer of d&a designs
Alex Vazquez deeply admires his mother ("she raised three boys while designing and running a successful fashion line"), lights up when he talks about his fiancee whom he just proposed to at a picnic in Central Park, and stays true to his vision for the unique rocker/Latin-influenced jewelry line D&A Designs he started with his brother, Demian. He left a career in graphic design to pursue D&A, whose style shows remnants of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where his family has a vacation home. Fashion design roots run deep in the Vazquez family, as his aunt was a design director of men's accessories for the Gap and his mom is a successful leather and suede designer with a store in Santa Fe. With the new collection of 18-carat gold and diamond pieces out in August, Alex has a lot to be proud of. "We designed the stuff we would want to wear. As you go, you learn the fashion trends and adjust without compromising artistic integrity," says Alex. Jada Pinkett Smith, Pierce Brosnan, and Robin Williams are just a few who have caught on to how cool the D&A dog tags and bracelets are. When Alex isn't working, he enjoys painting and producing music--a renaissance man at its finest.
How do you measure success?
From a professional perspective, I would measure success by the passion one has for their career. From a life perspective, happiness is a good gauge. I'm aware that's a very cliche answer, but it's true.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
When running a business, any business, you face new challenges every day. The biggest challenge in creating a successful fashion line is keeping sales the number one priority, while consistently creating new and innovative designs. It's a challenge I have to overcome on a daily basis.
What's the most memorable compliment you've received?
Praised for my design abilities from my family, who all happen to be designers.
Who/what inspires your style?
Designers that break out of the mainstream inspire me. Originality inspires me. My family inspires me.
What is one thing people don't generally know about you?
I'm a sucker for anything sci-fi. I guess I'm just a nerd at heart.
Where do you go in Austin to get away?
Generally the bookstore is the spot I end up when I need a break from the office. It also helps keep me up to date on the ever-changing fashion trends.
Who would you take a cross-country trip with? why?
Definitely my fiancee Elena. We could have a good time at the DMV.
What are you nostalgic for?
I grew up in Santa Fe, so I guess I'm most nostalgic for mountains of snow in the winter and the legendary Mexican food you can get only there.
If you could design a piece for any person, who would it be and why?
I would like to design a piece for Karl Lagerfeld. He has a very unique sense of style and always wears an obscene amount of jewelry. It would be a fun challenge.