“Are you into black guys?” she leans in. I’m not surprised by the question, but still. Just how did my love life become a topic of conversation this early on? I met Lisa three sentences ago! “Because Marlon could introduce you to some of his friends,” she nudges. I look over at Lisa’s boyfriend, a gorgeous African American dancer standing next to her and watch how he smiles and fiercely nods. “Sure!” I say. “But I think you guys might be a bit younger than I am, no?” Lisa is thirty and Marlon about the same. They don’t care. Sometimes love is about being in the wrong place at the right time. “We met at my studio,” Lisa beams. “I threw a large keg part with a reggae band. He crashed it and saw me dancing and we fell in love.” We are nowhere near any beer tonight – we are at a fashion party – nor reggae music – we are at a fashion party – so I’m afraid my love affair will have to wait for a more favorable stellar alliance.
Luckily our conversation doesn’t end there. Because I just found my next Muse. Turns out Lisa Salzer is the founder and head designer at Lulu Frost, a jewelry company she started nine years ago straight out of college, “in lieu of getting a job!”. The philosophy behind the brand is simple: “Lisa’s work blends antique, vintage and modern elements to reinvent timeless classics.” You may have seen those beautiful pendant earrings made out of 1940s dress clips or the numbered 18k gold rings or the wildly popular pieces she’s been designing for J.Crew – “We’re now in our fifth season and it’s a joy!”. Or maybe you remember the Braced-lets she started two years ago with her orthodontist sister! Though variably different in their purpose, two unmistakable themes prevail: family ties and the past. “As an art history major, I find great value in the lessons of the past and consider that when I design,” explains Lisa. “Lulu is my childhood nickname and my grandmother was called Elizabeth Frost. She was in the antique jewelry business and is my inspiration. My mom Linda Salzer is my partner in crime – she buys most of the vintage pieces I use in my work. She has a great eye.”
I’ve never done a jewelry shoot before so I’m a bit nervous when we meet a few weeks later in Bridgehampton at Lisa’s favorite antiques store. “We get our best pieces from Barbara Trujillo. She’s brilliant. The best dealer!” cheers Lisa when we walk to the back of the store. The merchandise is overwhelming. I don’t know where to look first, and to try and see everything is ludicrous. I let Lisa do the digging while I find respite in the tiny rack of vintage clothes they’ve set up and, oh, my friend Patti Wilson who just walked in. “Isn’t this place amazing?” she gushes. “You should get that necklace…” I’m trying my best not to let all the shiny, sparkly things distract me. Instead I concentrate on the emerging styling theme. It’s undeniably 90s: oversized, denim jackets, cowboy boots, turquoise navajo necklaces, bold, gold charm bracelets… Is Lisa ready for this? “I often think my personal style is ‘eclectic and ladylike’ but I vary a lot from day to day” she tries.”Marlon encouraged me to get this new hair cut, which is pretty 90s I guess! He loves the 90s.”
I leave the store with my gold necklace – damn you people – and a pair of gold elephant earrings Lisa props inside my bag as a surprise. We meet three more times after this. Just half an hour later, on the beach with an entourage of friends and family; last Tuesday for the shoot at her Manhattan apartment; and the following day at my party with Diane Von Furstenberg. But that’s not all. We have plans to take cooking classes together and perhaps some flower arranging. And who knows, those might just be the wrong, domestic places I’ve never looked. I certainly thank the person who put me in the same room as Lisa when we first met. She’s one of the most generous, warm, genuine women I know. And you should all buy her jewelry. ; – ))