With shiny gems and silver chains, Mia Vesper, known for using vintage tapestries and speciality textiles, is rebranding her fashion line into VESPER OBSCURA, focusing on unique, limited edition garments and jewellery. Mia’s journey is a testament to embracing change and creativity, blending personal style with sustainable luxury to create pieces that captivate and inspire.

hube: What inspired you to create VESPER OBSCURA? How does this new brand universe reflect your evolution as a jewellery designer?

Mia Vesper: VESPER OBSCURA focuses on ‘few of a kind’ and jewellery. It was born from the closure of my ready-to-wear line. The privilege of designing was being lost in the downsides (waste, both financially and ecologically). Rather than gently recede into the background by closing my business entirely, I opted to publicly admit I was struggling and move forward with a rebrand. 

Obscura Jewels is a huge part of the shift. The idea is to make jewellery that is pure and unaffected by industry standards. Jewellery is a relatively new medium for me so I have nothing to project onto it – unlike clothing which I have some significant trauma. 

Obscura Jewels is the gasp of fresh air I needed and I hope the pieces reflect that.

h: VESPER OBSCURA marries easy silhouettes with luxury textiles and exquisite craft. How does this vision translate onto the jewellery pieces you carefully craft? 

MV: This is such an intuitive marriage to me because it is my style. I like to dress expressively but I do not want to be perceived as a caricature. When using extreme scale, color or pattern there must be a subduing element or you risk tipping the scale from cool to zany. For instance, the rings I made for this collection are enormous. Putting them in a no-frills setting takes down that ‘too-muchness’. Difficult to achieve, easy to process and startling to see. That’s the aesthetic. 

h: Your background in designing garments from vintage and speciality textiles is evident in your clothing line. How does this background influence the design process for your jewellery pieces?

MV: Both my clothing and jewellery are influenced by pieces I wish existed for me to wear. As a vintage collector, I can sort of see the holes in fashion history and fill them with my designs. In no way am I granularly versed in designer names or contemporary fashion – but I think I have a good grasp on a lot of thematic phenomena throughout fashion history. The same goes for art and furniture. I couldn’t tell you precisely who made what from what era, but the osmosis of being an antique collector’s daughter means I am hard to surprise. So I try to make pieces that are surprising and entwine them with classic elements. 

h: The use of semiprecious and glass stones, along with interchangeable enamel charms, seems to add a playful yet sophisticated touch to your jewellery collection. Could you tell us more about the creative process behind integrating these elements?

MV: I love both folk and naive art. To me, those charms read like vintage rugs, lino prints, crocheted cowichan sweaters – but I wanted them to be a bit ‘glossified’. I suppose that is what a lot of my design is about. Crediting what is often labelled as naive/kitschy/crafty or primitive with the cleverness and elegance I already see in it.

h: VESPER OBSCURA aims to create pieces that would interest anthropologists today, archivists in a century and archaeologists in a millennium. How do you envision your jewellery pieces fitting into this timeless narrative?

MV: To be both vanguard and enduring is the goal. This can be achieved through sowing controversy or through creating collective appreciation. I make a commercial product so I prefer the latter. Plenty of people would never wear my pieces, but nobody dislikes them. I love that one of my Gen Z customers could show their grandpa my Instagram and he’d say, ‘That there is some mighty cool stuff!’ I love that.

Photo-Cred-Noa-Griffel-Vesper-Obscura-Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path
Photo-Cred-Noa-Griffel-Vesper-Obscura-rebrand-Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path

h: Let’s talk about the countries you source your gemstones from. Have you had any unique experiences collaborating with artisans from these countries or engaging with local communities involved in gemstone work? What was the most memorable moment and has it somehow influenced your work? 

MV: I only just began working with a factory in India for my semi precious jewellery production. It’s a great fit for my aesthetic because the culture is so open to decoration. Consultants and manufacturers usually tell me to tone down to sell more volume. My partners in India are always cheering me on though. They are attached to creating pieces with artistic value – to the extent that they humour me even when I suggest stuff that can never go into production. (We are working on a tiara right now.)

h: Different communities interact with gemstones in a variety of ways and infuse them with unique meanings – like healing, strength and love. Have you noticed any interesting cultural perspectives or practices surrounding gemstones in your interactions with different communities?

MV: Honestly not enough years in to answer this one.

h: Your mother’s influence as a wildlife rehabilitator and collector of folk art and antiques is mentioned. How does her influence shape the themes and motifs present in your jewellery designs?

MV: The animal motifs, the sometimes simplistic shapes, the marriage of colours – these were all picked up in my early childhood. Growing up with her in rural America pre-internet age meant we were folk artists ourselves and we collected folk art as well. A preteen-hood spent making mosaics and looking after baby animals is something that sticks with you.

h: Could you share some insights into the materials and techniques you use in crafting your jewellery pieces? Are there any particular materials or processes that hold special significance for you?

MV: I like beautiful stones regardless of rarity or monetary value. I also think silver is cooler than gold, which is the opinion of about 17 other people in the American market (gold sells much better).

I am so wound up by people’s perception of value. I remember going wet sifting for diamonds as a kid and thinking the payoff was about 100 times less satisfying than looking for mica – a common stone where I lived.

I also remember thinking my mom should have a tiger eye wedding ring. She had such otherwise discerning taste and I wondered why she had not had the presence of mind to ask for something like that. 

h: What do you hope people experience or feel when they wear a piece from the Obscura Jewels collection?

MV: A little awe, a little awww, a little ahhhhhh! 

Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path
Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path
Cred-Noa-Griffel-Vesper-Obscura-B_spread-Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path
Mia Vesper and her dazzling jewellery path

Photography by NOA GRIFFEL courtesy of VESPER OBSCURA