When she was a girl,Amy Lux would spend entire weekends at the Dahl Arts Center's costume shop. While her mother put together the costumes for Dahl productions, Lux and her sister would live a little girl's dream: having an almost-unlimited supply of dresses, hats, and accessories with which to play dress-up.
These days, Lux has turned that girlhood play into work, fashioning larger-than-life jewelry from her home in Portland, Oregon. Her company, Lux Jewelry, is well-loved among the city's designers and fashionistas. Her work has appeared in dozens of west coast fashion shows, music videos, fashion shoots, and, as Lux describes it, "anywhere that people want to look good."
Lux describes her style as edgy, with an emphasis on mixing urban street fashion with traditional tribal adornments. While her style is changing all the time -- no show looks quite the same, even from month to month -- the size of many of the pieces are big enough to catch the eye.
"I definitely try to push what is considered fashion," Lux says. "The bigger the better . It's almost an overstatement -- like you don't need to wear anything but the jewelry."
At one of her most recent shows, a monthly collaboration between sister Ali Lux's African print clothing line, another Portland visual artist, and Lux Jewelry, the jewelry offerings were a mixed bag. But that's the status quo at a Lux Jewelry event. Next towith charms in the shape of little cakes were big stone necklaces dyed in neon hues, feathered earrings that fell well below the shoulder, and huge rings that covered three or more fingers.
"My style is constantly changing and evolving," says Lux. "One day I might be working with hot pink skulls, and the next it could be vintage lace."
Lux gives much of the credit for her creative talents to her mother, Deb Lux, who collects vintage costumes, and always had a plethora of beads and fabrics around the house to inspire her children. Deb Lux owned a clothing store, the Peacock Emporium, in the 1970's, and worked as a costume coordinator for Group Theatre for a number of years. Today, daughter Amy Lux says she's heavily influenced by the 1960's and 70's in her work, due to that exposure in the store and the costume shop.
"I had learned all about periods in fashion by the time I was six," Lux says. "Our mom raised us to express ourselves in any way we wanted, and to not let social constraints stop us from being who we are."
Today, Lux uses that inspiration not only to create wearable works of art, but also to raise her two sons, Mikah, 10, and Kahmali, 7. Lux giggles when telling how one son wears a pocket watch to school, while the other has both ears pierced under his football helmet. She seems proud to see her boys expressing themselves in ways that she might not have imagined.
On top of managing her own jewelry line, Lux is also the sales and marketing manager for jewelry wholesaler LaJous Jewelry, based in Portland. While promoting and selling jewelry for a potential competitor might seem counterintuitive, Lux uses the experience as a learning and teaching tool.
"I get to learn a lot about business, while at the same time I'm helping a big fashion company learn the importance of independent designers," Lux explains. "They're good skills for all of us to have."
Doing both means a lot of nights being up until two a.m., Lux says, though the experience and the payoff, in the form of two successful businesses, makes it worth it the extra time.
Thriving while having one foot in two different worlds is something that's come with a lot of practice. Lux got that practice by growing up in the, and now living in a place that's very different from home. Lux says being in the Hills gave her a connection with nature that is now apparent in the natural elements of her jewelry.
"It's a unique place, and even though I haven't lived there for 15 years or so, I still consider it home, and I am very inspired there," Lux says.
On the other hand, Portland has provided that urbane, fashion-forward perspective that keeps her styles appearing on the runways.
"Portlanders are very in to supporting unique, independent designers. And everyone wants something that no one else has," Lux explains. In the Black Hills, meanwhile, "it's harder to go out on a limb," Lux says.
But with a lifetime of experience making larger-than-life creations in the costume shop, Lux wants to keep creeping out on that limb in her hometown, to give Black Hills women the chance to wear something unique. She hopes to hold another trunk show in the Black Hills sometime this summer.
You can find samples of Lux Jewelry's work at:
www.facebook.com -Lux Jewelry