NOHO, for those of you who don’t know what it stands for, it stands for North of Houston in New York City. It’s also one of the most trendy neighborhoods, where creativity meets cool and chic. It was home to legendary artists such as Andy Warhol and unforgettable music clubs like CBGBs. It’s also home to the elegant and exclusive jewelry line, Rose Berger NYC. Rose, pictured to the right, is from a small mining town in West Virginia. Life was tough there, it was a very poor town and extremely difficult to get a good education, especially in the early 1950s. Rose and her family moved to New York City in 1963 where according to Rose “Life was a hell of a lot easier but still challenging”. Those big-city challenges taught Rose never to take anything for granted, with hard work anything is possible and to be strong enough to accept failure along with success.
When asked what lead up to her becoming a Jewelry designer, she attributes it all, to a bookmark she made for her daughter out of one of her sterling silver charms. Her daughter pulled it out in school and the idea caught on. Before Rose knew it, she started to receive requests from all of her daughter’s classmates, family and friends. It was a daunting task to find charms that matched each personality so Rose decided to take a silversmith course to make her own charms and designs. Before the course was even over, she bought a designer’s work bench, tools and set up a small work-space in her kitchen. It wasn’t just bookmarks she was making anymore, it was pendants, earrings, rings and other accessories as well.
With her new found passion in the art of jewelry design, Rose would find herself up all hours of the night working on her creations. Her hard work and dedication, afforded her the opportunity to open a popup store which was in business for 19 months while she was employed full time. It was there that Sarah Gore-Reeves, a fashion editor from “Vogue Mexico”, approached her and inquired about using one of her pieces for a photo-shoot. The December 2012 issue of “Vogue Mexico” featured two of Rose’s hand designs worn by super model Coco Rocha. All of this happening, Rose was able validated herself and her decision to keep on designing.
Living in NOHO, is one of Rose’s biggest inspirations, along with images from history books, such as chain-mail armor worn by European and Japanese soldiers, Egyptian body jewelry and period pieces from other cultures around the world. When she leaves home, she is steps from NYU (New York University) and Broadway. Within a 2 block radius, she witnesses a photo-shoot, music video and or film shoot. According to Rose, most New Yorkers love to wear black and she does as well. Before she even designs, she envisions how the piece will look on a black background or on her mannequins with black canvas so she can bring the idea to life. According to Rose, when an individual wears black he or she is looking to accessorize from head to toe.
What makes Rose’s designs unique in the industry is that they compliment the body and are extraordinarily comfortable. Rose designs body chains, metal dresses, and entire outfits out of chain-mail. Depending on the day and where she draws her motivation from, she might create a pair of sterling silver earrings that attach to a necklace, a head piece, face piece, or a pair of classically designed earrings for a dinner party. All of Rose’s designs are one of a kind also contributing to why her designs stand out in the design community and the industry as well.
With such distinct designs, Rose is always being approached to use her designs for photo-shoots, video and film shoots. There is a great demand for her pieces, however that demand also comes with frustration. According to Rose, being less of a known designer makes it twice as hard to sell her items. One can throw in the ever increasing cost of marketing to the equation of frustration as well. She refers back to her popup store, where her booth was next to a woman selling well known pieces at twice the price of Rose’s. People were buying based on the brand name, even though the jewelry was literally falling apart in their hands. What frustrated Rose the most is that the woman in the booth next to her called upon her services to fix her merchandise constantly, whether it was a jump ring that needed to be replaced or a faulty clasp that needing to be adjusted.
When asked about upcoming fashion trends developing, she wishes she kept what she used to wear in the 70s and 80s. She also spotted jeans with holes in the knees that she use to wear in the 90s. However, she is saddened at the fact that women are wearing less jewelry as before.
In the high-paced ever-changing world of fashion and jewelry design Rose was asked what she does in her down time and she explained that she just recently retired from her full time job, the beginning of this year so there is no downtime. Her downtime is being a full time designer and she loves every minute of it.
In closing, I am quite sure that the designers she admires most, Betsey Johnson, Tarun Tahiliani, and Joe Galliano, just to name a few, would return the favor and admire her just as much.