“I’m fascinated by ethnic dress and adornment, beautiful textiles, celebratory dances and carnival – any kind of festivity and extravagance,” says Colombian designer Lucia Echavarria. The New York-based founder of accessories label Magnetic Midnight, Echavarria creates bespoke headpieces (from $800) inspired by everything from art history and architecture to flowers and the cosmos. Using a diverse range of materials – straw, feathers, velvet, beads and mirrors – Echavarria creates crowns “that fit the wearer’s style, but also a specific occasion,” she says of her statement-making tiaras.
The name Magnetic Midnight refers to the time of day when the magnetic poles align and auroras can be seen in the sky. Much like these rare, beautiful lights, Echavarria’s tiaras provide flashes of colour and brilliance. Her passion for fancy dress began in childhood and took flight after a trip to Iran, where Echavarria visited a mosque inlaid with intricate mirror mosaics. “I was struck with the idea of making a headpiece out of similar mirrors,” says Echavarria. “That original idea evolved into my first collection, Persepolis.” Colour theory plays into her work, too, with many pieces inspired by the art of Josef Albers and Mark Rothko.
After a theme or colour scheme has been selected by the client (an archive is available for inspiration), Echavarria sets about sketching a tiara that is realised in full glorious three-dimensional colour, two to four weeks later. The vibrant collection includes the Peacock and Feather models, showcasing bountiful arrays of brightly coloured feathers, beads and mirrors. The Shooting Star and Sun tiaras employ embroidery, gold ribbon and pom-poms, while the iridescent Mermaid style features intricately woven palm leaf, mother-of-pearl, cowry shells and coral.
Each headpiece is handmade in Colombia, using a wire frame made by a family outside of Bogotá, while iraca palm leaf is woven by artisans in Usiacurí to create vibrant swirls and patterns. Embellishments such as pom-poms made by the Wayuu tribe, vivid embroidery and handmade presentation boxes are also sourced locally.