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Catching Rae

Meet Vanessa Arthur of VLM Jewelry

Photography by  Qi Wong

Photography by Qi Wong

Hang on to your sun hats ladies, because I've been dying to introduce you to this local gem of a jewelry designer ever since I first laid eyes on her in an orange neoprene moto jacket and amazingly stackable knuckle rings. She's ever so cool, stylish as all get-out, and she was kind enough to let me style and interview her for this blog post! So without any further ado, let's talk about Vanessa Louise Marie Arthur and her namesake brand VLM Jewelry.

Vanessa's design street cred includes a 15-year career designing contemporary womenswear for brands like BCBG Max Azria and nearly a decade at the helm of chic household brand Trina Turk (where she actually designed one of my favorite skirts of all time, seen here). In late 2015, she realized her long-time dream with the launch of her very own jewelry line, which draws inspiration from "Southern California’s Mid-Century Modernist era where bold architectural shapes and a confident dose of individualism embody wearable art.” It's at once edgy, unique, feminine, and so totally wearable it reminds me of body art - something that really becomes a part of the wearer as a signature look.

For this shoot, Vanessa's closet yielded a treasure trove of color, interesting cuts, textures, and patterns to choose from.  Her look is "contemporary but not trendy," with "architectural silhouettes and a fun dose of color." My main objective as a stylist was to celebrate her modern vibe and accentuate the lines and textures of her jewelry, because "standing out from the crowd and wearing something different can lead to great conversation about [her] jewelry and style choices."

The first outfit is built around a cleverly draped deep teal silk tunic. It makes such a pretty backdrop for the sheen of polished metal and brings out Vanessa's stunning blue eyes. To keep the look summery, I paired the tunic with her lighter wash gray jeans and delicately strapped silver sandals. I love how the soft, beachy grays play off the stars of the show: her VLM Abacus Pendant Necklace, Agate Parallel Cuff Bracelet, Baton Pendant Necklace, and Post Accent Studs

The second outfit is a more casual daytime look centered on two of Vanessa's designs for Trina Turk: a loose-fitting sheer striped top and cropped flare pants. This white-on white combo was perfect to showcase the polished, pretty side of VLM next to some cheerful summer flowers. The white-on-white combo is effortlessly cool, clean, and current - while the bronze accessories balance the earthy tones of Vanessa's hammered bronze and agate Abacus Earrings, Parallel Cuff Bracelet, Kinetic Ring, and Kinetic Pendant Necklace.

Besides being versatile and totally easy to wear, VLM jewelry is designed from Vanessa's home studio in Pasadena and produced right here in downtown Los Angeles. Vanessa and I spent a good amount of time discussing the huge impact of outsourcing on American artists, designers, and other craftspeople.

"I am conscious of what culture and economy I choose to support with my purchasing decisions. I believe its important to support designers like myself that value quality craftsmanship and produce their goods domestically. [...] Simply stated, its important to support small businesses and indie designers because your purchasing power can make a difference in stimulating the local economy and keeping jobs in America. The “shop small” movement is thankfully gaining awareness and giving independent brands a fighting chance against the mega brands. There are many made in America brands that offer unique goods and produce in Los Angeles, including VLM Jewelry, you just have to seek them out! The alternative is sacrificing quality, culture and environment…. and just looking plain unoriginal! Thats a big no-no in my book."

To me, talented artists like Vanessa make buying local seem easier and (and more fashionable!) than ever before. Pop on over to her blog and follow her @vlmjewelry on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on her appearances, inspiration, and promotions. Better yet, head over to one of her upcoming appearances this August and September (listed below) - or hop onto her web store and nab some truly unique, locally-crafted awesomeness you'll find yourself wearing everywhere, all year long.

Starting this very Sunday, nab yourself some VLM fabulousness in person at three special events:

Summer Pampering Boutique
August 14th 2-5pm
20661 Saticoy Street
Winnetka, CA 91306

VLM Jewelry x West Elm Pop-up
August 27th & 28th 1-4pm
248 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA  91101

VLM Jewelry x West Elm Pop-up
September 17th 1-4pm
1433 4th St
Santa Monica, CA  90401

Special thanks to our ever-wonderful photographer Qi Wong. I've had the honor of working with her on a few shoots now, and she always goes the extra mile to make her sessions fun and relaxed, with seriously gorgeous photos as the end product! If you ever need to document that special look or occasion, definitely look her up at

Also be sure to check out all the fun behind-the-scenes shots from today's photo shoot over on Instagram - I caught lots of killer jewelry and outfit details!


I absolutely love to feature local artists, designers, bloggers and entrepreneurs with unique style! If this sounds like you, please feel free to contact me about partnering for an article and/or photoshoot. :)