Style Icon: Theresa Bruno


Teresa Bruno

Jordan Alexander Jewelry

by Tracy Robinson

Photography by Chuck St. John

Think of remarkable women throughout history—Coco Chanel, Jackie O, Hillary Clinton—and what do they have in common? They all wore pearls. Theresa Bruno’s mother and grandmother, prominent Alabama matriarchs and philanthropists, were among the women donning these timeless jewels. Theresa received her first strand in the fourth grade, and still cherishes them, but was constantly looking for something that fit her self-described “elegant funk” style.

A Juilliard graduate, Theresa has always had a passion for the arts and a desire to create. If nothing in the marketplace suits her, she designs it herself; which she has done with music, furniture, and now jewelry. Seeking to reshape modern fine jewelry, a year and a half ago Theresa launched Jordan Alexander, a line named after her son that is “hip, yet lovely.” Central to her collection is the use of oversized baroque pearls that have only been in the American market for four years. Precious materials, like pearls and pave diamonds, are combined (or “slammed,” as Theresa terms it), with non-traditional elements like sandalwood, lava, bone, silk, leather, agate and 300-year old Yemen prayer beads. The result is a collection that is elegant enough to be worn with an evening gown, yet contemporary enough to be paired with jeans.

There is no better example of this than Jordan Alexander fan Michelle Obama, who wore two diamond-accented strands of navy baroque pearls and pave “Kiss” earrings to a Chilean state dinner last March. She was later photographed on numerous occasions sporting a stack of Jordan Alexander bracelets (the First Lady wears them storied together, as intended), everywhere from a White House lawn BBQ to throwing the first pitch at a National’s baseball game.

And oh, did other celebrities and media attention follow. Both Marie Claire and Robb Report have featured pieces in their must-have gift guides; Lucky Magazine, The New York Times, and Women’s Wear Daily have written articles. In fact, the WWD editor told Theresa she had never seen anything like the latest Slice Collection.

“I didn’t realize I was doing something innovative,” Theresa admits. “I was just going for broke, experimenting by slicing pearls to see what the insides revealed.” Stars spotted in Jordan Alexander include Julia Roberts, Miranda Lambert, Laura Linney, Lauren Graham and Brooklyn Decker. Most recently, Kristen Stewart was featured on the cover of Glamour wearing the Diamond Rondelle Necklace. “No two women are alike, and the same goes for pearls. Maybe a traditional strand fits you best (as for her mother and grandmother) but know there are other options,” Theresa says.

In addition to her mother and grandmother, Theresa was influenced by Coco Chanel, “who was so determined to create her own style.” Theresa’s style icon of today? The stylish women walking the streets in New York and Los Angeles, exuding that “street savvy cool.”

When asked about favorite fashion designers, Theresa’s taste reflects her modern aesthetic with a nod to classics, citing favorites Rick Owens, Alexander Wang, and Helmut Lang, along with quintessential shoe designer Christian Louboutin. Her choices demonstrate a knowledge of the design world. Theresa admires Miu Miu, the more playful side of the Prada fashion house, saying, “It’s amazing what Miuccia Prada has done with her grandfather’s company since she took over in ’78.”  And she offers praise for former Rochas and Nina Ricci designer Oliver Theyskens’ capsule for Theory. As for her go-to resources, Theresa explains, “I’m lucky because I get to work with New York fashion editors; it really is just like Devil Wears Prada.” When in her beloved hometown of Birmingham, Theresa loves to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, Gus Mayer and Laura Kathryn.

But the majority of her time at home is spent fostering arts programs in the city.  She was, and still is, integral in the foundation of ArtPlay, the education and outreach initiative of UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. ArtPlay opened in January of last year in a historic house on Southside and serves people of all ages, including outreach to the marginalized and homeless.

A true creative ambassador, Theresa’s success is an inspiration to and positive reflection of Birmingham. Her advice on selecting fine jewelry seems farther reaching than just a shopping tip: “Seek what you love, not what people tell you to love. Consider quality and individuality. If you’re going to invest in something, make sure it feels special and unique to you.” Words to live by.

To view some of the celebrities wearing Jordan Alexander, click here. To shop the collection, visit Etc. in Mountain Brook Village or www.endless.com.

Photographer, Chuck St. John; Stylist, Tracy Robinson. Clothing & accessories from Icon’s own wardrobe. Photographed at Icon’s home.

 

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