Local retailer JuliAna has only one pair of Lulu Frost earrings left. The dangly, gold-toned creations consisting of buttons and chain links were hand-made by Lisa Salzer '04, a young designer who started selling antique-influenced jewelry to friends out of her apartment during her senior year at Dartmouth.
Salzer's popularity has recently spread far beyond the Upper Valley. Just as the collection of jeans and jackets at JuliAna often mirrors the stock at big-name urban stores, Salzer's LuLu Frost jewelry line now appears in Barney's New York and other shops in Manhattan and the Hamptons.
While Barney's has been stocking Salzer's designs for about a year, the fashion media caught on only in the past several months. Lulu Frost was featured in the November issue of Vogue, and Salzer has been approached by other top fashion magazines like Lucky, Harper's Bazaar and InStyle. She has also talked with Anthropologie, a purveyor of vintage-style clothes, jewelry and housewares, about developing a product line for their stores.
While antiques have only recently acquired their strong influence in the fashion world, Salzer isn't worried about her designs being cast aside any time soon.
"I've been doing the same thing now for a year, and people have always found beauty in it, even if it wasn't trendy," Salzer said.
Salzer cites her grandmother, Elizabeth Rock Frost, for whom the company is partially named, as one of her greatest influences. Frost worked in an estate and antique jewelry store, where Salzer spent a lot of time as a child.
"Her elegance and sense of grace definitely influenced me in terms of my aesthetics," Salzer said.
Salzer's aesthetics, which include an affinity for architectural elements like locks and hinges, have set her line apart from scores of other jewelry designers in New York. One of her most popular designs is a necklace made with original room numbers from the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, which is undergoing renovations and will become primarily a condominium complex.
Ironically, and in keeping with Salzer's time-influenced aesthetic, she thinks the circumstances under which she acquired the numbers were less than ideal; they became available when the Plaza auctioned off the furniture and other objects from the hotel.
"It's so depressing," Salzer said of the legendary hotel's renovations. Still, she thinks the pieces, which are nearly 100 years old, have made for great additions to her line.
Salzer got her hands on about 1,000 of the numbers, and she said the necklaces she makes from them are retailing for $300 each and selling well at Barney's.
An art history major and studio art minor, Salzer credits the Tuck School of Business' Bridge Program with giving her the business savvy she needed to succeed in running a company.
Although it hasn't been too long since Salzer moved her operation from 36 Lebanon Street to New York's East Village, she is confident that her grandmother's influence will continue to show through in her pieces.
"I think that's what's remained constant the whole time," she said, "the influence of the antique in my work."