Before I designed clothes or t-shirts, I made body chains. I made my first body chain in 2012 for my first fashion show where I was determined to prove that an accessories designer could put on just as much of a show as a clothing designer. The jewelry from the show made a huge impression and I realized that I had hit on something no one else was doing.

Three years later, the latest Ready to Stare Summer Collection, Watch the Queen Conquer features 14 different body chains, belts, head chains, anklets and introduces leg chains for the first time to the Ready to Stare family of everyday statement pieces. Every piece in the collection is named after a famous feminist of today or the past such as Lucy Stone and Laverne Cox. Pieces range from $35-$99. Most pieces are available in sizes S-5X.

As I have designed body chains for the past three years, I've learned a lot and so for this collection, I wanted to return to my body chain roots and do an ALL body chain collection and do it BIG. I've always incorporated body chains alongside other tamer jewelry pieces (okay well as tame as neon dinosaur earrings could be) and I wanted to let body chains stand on their own. 

Okay, if you are annoyed with me quoting Nicki Minaj lyrics, I swear it's for good reason. Nicki is one of the powerful women who inspired this collection. I took inspiration from women who own their confidence, live authentically, and speak their motherfuckin' minds. The name for the collection was inspired by Nicki's verse on Kanye West's "Monster" which I am still obsessed with five years later. I remember exactly where I was when I heard it and how it made me feel. To hear a woman saying that she didn't need to be a King to succeed was all the message I needed to fall even more in love with Nicki. I think as women in male-dominated fields, we are told we need to emulate characteristics typically associated with men in order to succeed and what Nicki's lyric signified to me is that you can win just by being you.

When I thought about the pieces I wanted to create for this collection, I knew that I wanted them to that mirror both armor for battle in the trenches and crowns for royalty to show the duality of power.. I also knew that I wanted to design H to T or in other words from head chains all the way down to anklets. The pieces reflect the same artistry and ingenuity that I called upon when I designed my first body chain three years ago but they also reflect the practicality and needs of the community I serve. I took into account the feedback that I have received over the years from shows and social media. I made sure that there was plenty available in silver even though I personally do not care for silver. I released a few items in advance to gauge people's interests and I tested wearability across my full size range. I even recreated a few custom orders.

And I took one other piece of feedback that I've heard over the years: how in the hell do you wear a body chain in real life? To me, it always seemed obvious that you could wear them with anything. But it was became increasingly clear to me that some people liked the way these body chains looked but they needed to see an example of how to style them outside of pairing it with a bathing suit.

The concept for this lookbook is to show how you can wear these body chains everywhere from the beach to the streets. Ready to Stare strives to create everyday statement pieces so that your pieces are not something you wear on a special occasion but they are something you wear no matter where you're going.

The lookbook was shot by Cleveland photographer Linda Ford of Linda's Lenses across two days and features nine different models varying from a size 2 to a size 26. The lookbook shows models both in basic black swimwear paired with the body chains and 90s vintage garments to show you that body chains are for every body and every occasion. The vintage garments are also for sale and range from a size 2 to a size 30.
Hair and make-up was done by Mary-Morgan Byrd.
The models included: Amanda Sweet, Emerald Shaw, Kasey Simmerer, Kenyiana Lewis, Maria Amador, Kari Dowiak, Shauntae Meadows, Mary-Morgan Byrd and Christina Basham
One of my lovely lookbook models, Emerald Shaw who also happens to be a videographer/blogger made a super cute Behind The Scenes video which you can watch below to see just how fun it is to be a Ready to Stare model!


This post was originally published on May 22, 2015.