Jewelry designer Efva Attling talks about her rejection from Abba, clubbing in the Meatpacking District in the 70's, and how important your hairdresser can be.
Name: Efva Attling Most of us know her because: She has her own jewelry brand with stores and retailers all over the world, EfvaAttling.com. Lives: Alphabet City, New York and Södermalm, Stockholm.
Before you became a successful jewelry designer you were a model, right?
Yes, Eileen Ford spotted me and after that I worked as a model for twelve years. Thanks to Ford, I came to New York for the first time in 1974 but because of the oil crisis and the economy, I only stayed for a year and then moved to London. But I loved it.
How was it to be a model in New York during that time?
It was great, I got to meet so many amazing people! This was the same time as wonderful women like Lauren Hutton, Patti Hansen and Grace Jones were modeling and partying in New York. We went to these obscure clubs in the Meatpacking, which in the 70’s wasn’t really the same neighborhood it is today...
Then you moved on to music?
Music has always been a big part of my life since my dad was a part-time jazz musician. He actually took a job on a boat that was going to New York just to be able to go up to Harlem and listen to jazz, even though his friends warned him it was dangerous, but he only said “I’m just going to listen to some jazz!” That was 1947 and fortunately much has changed since then. When I lived in Milan and worked as a model I started to sing with some Italians and we eventually made a demo. I’ve always been a friend with the Abba’s so I this one time I sent the demo to Benny Anderson, but he told me it sucked.
Did you give up your music career because of that?
No no, I moved back to Sweden and continued writing music while I was still modeling. Then I started my own band called X-Models, even though it was only me who had been working as a model. We made a lot of music together, pop, and finally EMI released the single “Två av oss” (Two Of Us), which became a hit. This was around the same time as Grace Jones, who is a friend of mine, also started her music career and a lot of people think we could not sing just because we were models, but I wrote my own lyrics and I had fun.
And when did you become interested in jewelry?
I actually did my first piece of jewelry when I was eleven years old and when I was sixteen I was a pupil of one of Sweden’s greatest silversmiths. I was too wild for school! After being a model, singer, television host, and clothing designer, among many things, I started designing jewelry. I shared a studio with three other girls in Stockholm but decided I wanted something of my own. So I told my hairdresser I was looking for a space. By the way, you should always tell your hairdresser what you need or want, regardless if it’s a job, a boyfriend, or if you’re looking for a studio, they know everything! So in 1999 I opened up my first store at Södermalm, Stockholm. And now, next week actually, we’re opening our 8th concept store, this time in Malmö, Sweden.
And you have a store in New York?
Yes, we opened in the Meatpacking District last year in October, and it’s been amazing. Most of our customers are American, but for the Swedes here on holiday we have a special New York-Stockholm item to bring home.
How is to be a silversmith and jewelry designer?
I love my job but it took me more than 25 years before I started to work with it. You need a lot of patience to work with silversmithery, which I can thank my two sons for having.
You and Marcus are friends, how did you meet?
We met for the first time a couple of years ago at a designer event put together by Volvo and I instantly liked him! I bump into Marcus and his wife from time to time and I always have such a good time. Last time we met was actually on the plane from Stockholm to New York. I had of course heard about Red Rooster and always wanted to go, so when Marcus invited me I decided to take my whole New York staff uptown and we all had such a great time!
Have you been downstairs, to Ginny’s?
Yes I love it! I saw an Ethiopian band [The Debo Band] playing at Ginny’s and they were amazing, I loved how they were all dressed in 70’s clothes.
You spend a lot of time in New York, what’s your favorite spot for food and wine?
Except Red Rooster, I love this small French restaurant close to my house in Alphabet City, Lucien, but please don’t tell any Swedes about it because I want to try to keep it my hidden gem.
What about your hometown? Where do you like to go out?
Well, I like to stay in my neighborhood so that I can drink a lot of good wine and then walk home. I love Bistro Süd, and Pa&Co is also one of my favorites, both are like a second living room. Other than that I like places where they have good meat, I don’t eat fish that often.
Finally, what are you doing for the holidays?
I’ll be spending Christmas in Sweden with my family and the day after, on the 25th, we always meet up with my four sisters and their families to have lunch. For New Year’s I think I’ll be in New York and I heard that there might be a party at Red Rooster. That would be amazing so I hope I get the invite!
Photos Courtesy of Efva Attling