Hollywood artist Renee Andriole has a line of severe jewelry designs that could literally cut your heart out. One particular beautifully harsh piece is called the Sickle Ring. It features a razor sharp blade shaped like a sickle that extends in either direction along the top of the wearer’s knuckles. You couldn’t wear it through airport security without getting detained, or even arrested. It’s intimidating, not to mention dangerous.
Andriole’s other signature pieces, in particular her edgy line of metal work she features on her website www.reneeandriole.com, include a Ball and Chain necklace that features silver spikes protruding from the sphere; a Knife Ring, which is worn on the index finger and has a four and half inch sterling silver blade that cuts across the hand; and a Spike Ring, which consists of a polished sterling silver spike that points at a simply perfect obtuse angle from the pinky or ring finger on which it’s worn back towards the inner wrist. Make the wrong move and impale your palm. Andriole’s inspiration behind these designs? Among several things, she sites “weapons.”
You’d expect the creator of something as deadly as a Sickle Ring to come off as a tad deranged, rather than a soft-spoken girl with a disarming smile. Without coming off as too smidgen about her, Andriole is one of the most gentle, engaging, and unassuming people you’ll ever meet. But her deep Mediterranean eyes and cheery temperament gives little indication to what she admits is her “dark side.”
“I think I shock some of the older women who meet me. And they ask me to send them links to my designs. I guess they’re expecting a lot of cutesy designs. Then the next time they see me they have a shocked expression on their face,” Andriole says, grinning as usual, from her studio off Hollywood Blvd.
It’s not a surprise some people look at her work and think “twisted” or even “kinky.” But Andriole stops me when I allude to the fetishy undertone emoted by her sadistic-cum-masochistic designs. She doesn’t actually interrupt me, mind you. She’s actually really polite about it. Rather, she hesitates with her breath until I ask her if she had thought about that.
“It’s just that I hate when people look at my work and see the edgy pieces specifically and think that this is just some S & M stuff. You don’t have to be head to toe in black leather and spikes to wear one of my pieces, cause I happen to think the Knife Ring goes best with a sweet floral dress,” Andriole says, recalling, “When people pigeon-hole some of the work I do it reminds me of the frat boys in my college art class who’d see my stuff and tell me sarcastically, ‘oh, what are you trying to say there?’ What I’m trying to express is not that superficial, not that simple.”
“I want my pieces to be more provocative than sexy. There is definitely a sexual element anytime metal touches skin. The way the metal feels on your skin alone awakens the senses. But sexy is the anticipation of something as well. With the more dangerous pieces, it is the anticipation of something hurting you,” Andriole explains. “The pieces interact with the wearer. You can hurt someone else or hurt yourself. It creates an awareness.”
She helps create that awareness by including instructions with her edgier pieces such as:
Be mindful when wearing this piece.
Don’t flail hands around innocent bystanders.
Use caution when going to the restroom.
And always… Remember you’re wearing a piece of art.
A person wearing these pieces feels empowered and brave, but anxious, even afraid of what they might do to themselves. Causing pain to your self as a consequence of causing pain to others is a theme found not only in Andriole’s jewelry but also in her fine art projects, such as a pair of bronzed brass knuckles with metal spikes on the interior of the piece. Punch someone with those and you’ll be puncturing through your own skin.
In that respect Andriole’s pieces trumpet her duality, not to mention yours and mine. Intimidating yet frightened, confident but worried, smooth and polished while sharp and deadly. Her designs are for people to wear after they have looked at themselves in the mirror.
“Life is a constant juxtaposition and we are always flowing back and forth. I think that my work illustrates its own juxtaposition,” she says.
While she enjoys designing dangerously, the reason various design blogs like thefrisky.com, publications like Juxtapoz, and the discerning taste of your truly, think Andriole is one of the next big things in fashion is that her lines combine sharp edginess with a subtle pop/glam quality. Her pieces are every bit as shiny and illustrious as they are avant garde, as much as a fashion statement as wearable art.
“That comes from my style. I dress kind of girly but then spice it up with a crazy piece of jewelry,” she says.
Some of her recent metal work involves more pieces that are totally about the stylo factor, such as the Corset Ring, which looks like a small corset with a zig zag cut down the middle bonded by wire, the uneven plates of her Asymmetrical Ring, and a similar but less orderly Stacked Ring made of two titanium and two silver plates.
The Stacked Ring’s plates have a differing finish, texture, and color. One silver plate has an oxidized gun metal finish and the other is reticulated. If you have no idea what that means, I don’t either. But Andriole does. “Reticulated is when you heat the metal so it buckles and creates little mountains and valleys. I think it looks kinda like when you fly across the country and you see the Desert Mountains below.”
Lastly, I ask the Andriole why she thinks people should like her stuff? It’s a common question I pose to designers of any kind. After a moment of mulling it over, she gives me an uncommon answer. “They don’t have to.” At the end of the day, being a artist who designs according to what she feels rather than trying to be a “marketing genius” is really what makes Andriole and her work dangerous.
– Humberto Guida