La Dolce Vita: literally translated as
the sweet life. We have named our collection for encapsulating
the pursuit of leisure, and celebrating the nostalgia in
holidaymakers of a bygone era.
Ironically enough, conversation around this collection all started in Susan’s living room one cold, November day. When brainstorming the vision for new designs, a discussion on Slim Aarons photography began and never stopped. What began as chatter of fantasy and folly transformed into the spark that ignited
La Dolce Vita.
When our team coincidentally gifted each other Slim Aarons coffee table books for Christmas, inspiration was further defined. From there, the collection took on a life of its own, with standout pieces that felt easy to wear and stayed true to the classic Susan Shaw look. Over the next six months, we worked to design and produce pieces that could have been easily worn while casually lounging in a Palm Springs poolside film roll.
The collection draws inspiration from three distinct decades, and features pieces that we envision being worn on faraway beaches, at dazzling rendezvous, and during the holiday of our dreams. The collection’s styling nods to nostalgic elements and the marriage of new + old. This story aligns with our own, a proven legacy that withstands the test of time.
Since 1979, we have produced jewelry that keeps up with the trends but remains classic enough to wear for years on end. Like Slim Aarons's photography, Susan Shaw jewelry continues to get even better with age.
"In Slim Aarons's world, the dramatis personae are never to be found staring at the horizon with existential terror. They are, in sharp contrast, frozen during moments of heavenly becaftaned unapologetic self-indulgence. Slim Aarons's glamorous jet-set snaps with the big bang of FOMO that made Instagram possible. Everybody on earth faces challenges, but when Slim hits the pause button, the world takes a momentary break and the relentless cycle of Birth, School, Work, Death takes a back seat to color, style, Regency pool pavilions, sun-soaked ski slopes, bougainvillea-covered colonnades, and suntanned arms clanking with statement jewelry."
Once we had jewelry samples in hand, we shifted our focus to the photoshoot that would bring our vintage vision to life.
It was all hands on deck to source wardrobe from both modern and vintage vendors. We started by putting together a mood board which included pulling department store advertisements from the 60s, it-girl looks from Jackie O. to Sophia Loren to Twiggy, and even college date party photos of Susan (see end of article). Peppered with shift dresses, bright colors, swirling patterns, and bulbous accessories, we had a direction and the shopping began.
Many outfit pieces ended up being vintage and one of a kind. Some of our favorite online vintage shops include
LA Retro Girl,
Archetype Vintage, and
Savage Love Vintage. Take it from us, it's not easy sourcing quality, vintage clothing and we love supporting these small businesses and the personalities behind them.
Luckily for us, many modern makers are leaning into 60s style this season. Designers we shopped for the shoot includedAlexis,
Lela Rose. In our recreation of "Palm Beach Ladies" (on the left), the orange dress is
Bernadette and the green dress is
Trina Turk. We have huge support from our local friends at
Julian Gold when it comes to shoots, and you can find these labels at their locations in San Antonio, Austin, Midland, Lubbock, and Corpus Christi.
With wardrobe set, the next piece of the puzzle was talent. In addition to our team, we called on photographer
Cody Bess and videographer
Jeremy Cross to capture and edit the production in true Slim Aarons style.
We knew that many of the images we wanted to emulate called for a good number of subjects - more than any of our shoots before required. Essential shots like
Poolside Gossip and
Poolside Backgammon were taken whiles hosts and hostesses were entertaining, so we decided to throw a little party ourselves. We rounded up a group of 12 models and friends to travel back in time with us.
Our biggest obstacle in planning was finding the right location. We had the attractive people, we knew we could position them doing attractive things, but we needed the attractive
place. We need to get plenty of scenes out of a singular location, and it needed to be Slim Aarons-esque. Another factor was our large cast - we wanted ample space and ease during break time. Our team was on a nationwide search.
The perfect place found us by way of Instagram, and it was just up I-35: the
Dr. Pepper House in Waco, Texas. Built in 1885 by Wade Morrison, the original founder of Dr. Pepper, the home has been renovated and restored with retro-modern sophistication. Take a look at their photos
here. Complete with six bedrooms and spacious common areas, its interiors are warm and inviting with touches of mid-century modern decor. Outside, you'll find the sprawling backyard with pool, hot tub, and cabana as well as a near wrap-around porch for sipping your morning coffee.
In March, our vintage vision came to life and the collection made its debut in full. On a Tuesday afternoon in Waco, Texas, the new pieces were styled with both modern and true vintage elements. Backgammon was played, spritzes were sipped, rotary phones were brought out, and La Dolce Vita commenced.
While the “jetsetter” lifestyle of Slim Aarons’s original muses isn't an everyday reality, we find comfort in the fact that we can find beauty in our everyday lives – even if that’s in carpool lines or cooking dinner, rather than in balmy Palm Springs. Our brand’s mission is to produce high quality jewelry that contributes to making an elevated everyday. For almost 45 years, Susan has been dedicated to making distinctive designs that remain practical and liveable. This easy elegance makes even the ordinary weekday feel refined. Combining this retro styling with our SS23 collection is the real-life representation of this mission, and it shows the impact of affordable luxury. While we are poolside + salty air dreaming, we aim to make our everyday something worth talking about.
"Designing La Dolce Vita was a nostalgic experience, as I often found myself looking back on my twenties. I was studying art at UT Austin in the sixties, when of course Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were gaining notoriety. My biggest style influences were Jackie O. and Audrey Hepburn.
While not as familiar with Slim Aarons himself at the time, I knew his work because I knew his subjects. I studied the fashion and destinations he captured as dreams I aspired to. The arts and culture that first influenced my career is represented in this collection."
La Dolce Vita is an ode to a bygone era of retro style and fantastical grandeur. The silhouettes in this collection personify faraway places frequented by Jetsetters and Holidaymakers, and include design elements from three distinct decades.