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Behind Joao Vaz's New Collection: Soliloquy

Behind Joao Vaz's New Collection: Soliloquy

“At times I wonder if I’m just being greedy… why would a happy person want to be happier?”

So it goes inside the head of Portuguese designer Joao Vaz.

Born in Lisbon and based in Sydney, Joao creates handmade jewellery with a passion and an intensity that most of us only ever experience fleetingly.

Whether he’s alluding to the architecture in the Pantheon, explaining how to hand engrave acrylic, or describing the magic of Antiques Road Show, his energy is so palpable it could start a religion.

So groundbreaking was his first ever collection that it landed him a spot on a runway at Sydney Fashion Week with Bianca Spender. 

His newest collection riffs on four different emotional extremes in acrylic, precious metals, gems and glass, gently fusing the machine with the manmade.  One of his many intentions with the collection was to imbue manmade materials with what he calls ‘the human ghost.’

“It’s a collection in which all surfaces have been touched by the human hand… and because of this, I hope it reads like a book about the human condition: in all your best attempts you can still see the imperfections, but perhaps they are the only clues to your heart’s true intensions,” says Joao.

It’s called Soliloquy, and rightly so.

“This process of being overtaken by emotion and thought to a degree that thrusts you into narrating what you feeling and thinking seemed enormously suited to the collection at hand,” says Joao. “However, I also feel as though this title could be the title for all my work, for all my collections. But it’s true that this particular collection did demand more than others and pulsated with an energy that was more independent than others, so in that sense, Soliloquy is the perfect name for it.”

Today Joao takes us into the minds of the four fictional anthropomorphic characters who informed the collection and feature in the official Soliloquy photoshoot - and in doing so, takes us inside his own psyche.

“The lookbook works with symbols,” Joao explains. “The background is different for each character and mostly refers to the character’s name.. The colour schemes were very painful to finalise - I did a lot of testing to reach the final combinations, and still one of them changed during the post-production stage.

“For every character there’s a specific combination of elements: background, hair, clothes, jewellery and face paint.

“The facepaint idea seemed to be a really obvious way of marking each character as being individual from the rest. I also made the clothes for each character; the shapes of the dresses were determined by the jewellery pieces each character would wear and the best way to enhance them.”

The Star Goddess

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“The Star Goddess wears angelic white… Her hair is up like a queen, and she’s magnificent because she’s hopeful. She’s not dogmatic, and this interplay of black and white refers to that, she’s not hopeful because she can’t see, she’s hopeful because she CAN see. The black is a reminder that she knows humanity isn’t perfect, but still, she decides to help us along. Her eyes are split in half by the yellow paint. ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ -  Leonard Cohen.

The Heart Lover

“The Heart Lover smiles because she’s the beginning, the only true force: love. Her face is pink because everything to do with pure love is pink. Her eyes miss the face paint, because she can’t yet see, only feel.

The Snake Witch

“The Snake Witch has a red face because she’s angry and bloody - blood working to identify the desire for death... Her choker has eleven black acrylic blades each with a different hand-carving telling the story of the creation and destruction of the universe. Her pendant is a blooming flower but it’s black, is it being born rotten? Is it spoiled? Or is it just a colour? I don’t know myself, but I think the uncertainty is key.

The Glow Mother

“The Glow Mother has a black face because she’s distant… Her background is mainly green like nature and then flows with bright warm colours, in an attempt to capture a glimpse of her will.., She wears gold like a mother made goddess by humanity; she looks out for us and protects us.”

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Joao Vaz’s newest collection, Soliloquy, is available now.