With artist ancestry in their blood from both sets of grandparents, sisters Phoebe and Annette Stephens were born to become successful designers. Launching in 2009, their jewelry label Anndra Neen is an award-winning brand that marries innovation, luxury, and sophistication. With inspirations ranging from their native Mexico City to Europe and Japan, the sisters have managed to redefine eclecticism for the modern jetsetter in a very short time.
1. What made you decide to create an accessory line together?
We were traveling together in Japan and were so inspired by their aesthetic and sense of design and fashion that we decided we wanted to start our own jewelry line as our grandmother had done. As soon as we got back, we flew to Mexico to find the artisan we wanted to work with.
2. Where does the name Anndra Neen originates from?
It is a combination of our middle names- Annette and Alejandra.
3. Your collection reflects both strength and femininity. Where do you find your inspiration?
Our grandmother is a great source of inspiration, as we design for the kind of woman she was. She was daring in her sense of style and loved to stand out, as well as being incredibly classic and feminine. We also look at art, sculpture, architecture and textiles for many of our design references. We are interested in both what is relevant now and what is timeless -- we aim to create pieces that will always be new and fresh, no matter what place or time.
Annette Nancarrow in Mexico in front of portrait of Orozco
4. Creativity seems to be part of your DNA. Your grandmother, Annette Nancarrow, was a painter, sculptor and jewelry designer, who was friends with such legendary artists as Frieda Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Anais Nin. Your father, Luis Stephens, is a painter. How has your past/upbringing influenced your own aesthetic/design philosophy?
We grew up surrounded by art and artists. Our father has always had an incredible eye and shared his vision with us. His approach, which we have adopted, has always been about finding balance in composition. In his paintings, it is about color and form. We aim to create jewelry that is wearable art, that can also be an object or a sculpture all on its own ? the balance is in form as well as function. We wear our jewelry to see how it fits and works on the body. It is important to us not only to have a piece that has an impact and that speaks on its own, but also that becomes part of the wearer's silhouette.
Luis Stephens, Tejido de Cabezas. 1978.
5. Up till now, what is your favorite or most memorable Anndra Neen piece and why?
We will always feel such a closeness to the first piece we ever designed. It is one of our island necklaces. That piece took us for the first time through the journey of seeing something we had drawn come to life in metal. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to wear something we had dreamed up.
6. What has been your inspiration for the metal clutches?
We wanted to create something that enabled women to both wear a fabulous piece out and have a place to carry all the necessary things for a night on the town. We have found so many different possibilities in the shapes, sizes and design elements of our bags and clutches that they continue to be one of our favorite things to design.
7. In November 2011 you have been awarded the Dorchester Collection Fashion Price, enabling you to showcase your work at Paris Fashion Week. What is next for Anndra Neen?
We hope to continue to show in New York and Paris each fashion week. Our future goals are to expand to a home collection, work in fine jewelry, and open a free-standing store.
To shop the Anndra Neen collection, please click here.