10 questions for Noa Sade and Vanessa Lee

November 25, 2013

By Katherine Ellis

Photography by Rebekah Schott and courtesy of Lionette 

With pastels, onyx, amber, silver and gold, the Lionette by Noa Sade line brings a variety of designs for its consumers. Launched in 2009, the New York-based company blends multiple backgrounds and influences of its founders – Noa Sade, a self-taught jeweler originally from Israel, and Vanessa Lee, a fashion guru born in China and raised in New York.

FAJO Magazine caught up with them about their line and what they have learned in the past five years in the jewelry business.

Noa Sade (left) and Vanessa Lee.

Noa Sade (left) and Vanessa Lee.

1. How did your passion for making jewelry begin?

Noa Sade: Art and music were a part of my life since a young age. When I was 20, I traveled around the world and collected gems from Australia, Africa and Thailand. When I arrived in New York City, I started making jewelry, and playing and experimenting [with it]. I started at the young designers’ market on Mulberry Street and rolled on from there.

Vanessa Lee: I started as an intern at Henri Bendel, while at FIT [Fashion Institute for Technology], and worked my way up to being a buyer.

2. When designing a piece, what inspires you?

Sade: It’s hard to know when inspiration ‘hits’ you. But, naturally, when you travel your mind is experiencing so much ‘newness.’ It just opens my mind. The environment of any place just gets into your blood ― that includes the artistic influence of any place in the world.

3. How was the name of your brand created?

Sade: It’s driven from the word ‘lioness’, who is the queen of the jungle. We love that she is a queen, but is also a hard worker and she is very loving, caring and sexy! It took us a night of brainstorming to come up with the name.

4. Your jewelry is made with anything from onyx to Swarovski crystals. Why do you work with so many elements? And how do you come up with the names for each of your pieces, which range from Tahiti to Annie?

Sade: I work with different elements because, to me, fashion is contrast. When things that aren’t supposed to match [are put together], it makes a beautiful ensemble: your eyes and heart get surprised and excited.

Each name has an energy to it. We name the pieces after our beloved people, places and musicians.

A close-up of one of the Lionette pieces.

A close-up of one of the Lionette pieces.

5. Can you name some of the celebrities who have worn your jewelry?

Lee: Hilary Swank, the singer/rapper Eve, Kristen Bell, Kat Dennings, [and more recently] Rihanna, [who wore an] Andaman Microphone Glove.

6. How would you describe the Lionette by Noa Sade aesthetic?

Sade: Bold, sexy and timeless.

7. You have a very distinctive background. How does this help you in your design process?

Sade: I am from Israel and surely have some Middle Eastern influence, but I think there are some international aesthetics. I try to capture women’s beauty wherever they are.

8. How would you describe your partnership with Vanessa?  

Sade: [Vanessa and I] are equal partners, but I am the designer. We actually don’t have a lot of disagreement regarding design. It’s so wonderful to have a fashion guru on my side when I need a good opinion.

9. After five years in the fashion industry, what would you say are some of the key lessons that you took away from your experience?

Sade: The most important thing is to be yourself and to do your best. We built our business on the values of love and honesty. We work to be a fashion house of accessories, giving funky women an elegant way and elegant women a funky way.

Vanessa Lee poses for FAJO in New York.

Vanessa Lee poses for FAJO in New York.

10. Where are your products available?

LEE: At Lionetteny.com, OTTE NYC, Revolve.com, Stanley Korshak, Madison LA and forwardbyelysewalker.com.

Select Lionette designs

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