One from the South Coast of Sydney, the other from a picturesque town on the Bavarian border. These are the idyllic geneses of Robert Sebastian and Sarah Gittoes, the two names that together have become synonymous with quality craftsmanship and luxurious design. The duo launched their label, SARAH & SEBASTIAN in 2011, and ever since their presence is growing stronger and stronger.
Beginning as a personal venture for Sarah, this treasured Australian label is heralded as a lasting favourite. The designers are continually applauded for their skill in producing wearable and inspired pieces each season. It’s an aesthetic that has seen the pair collaborate with big names like fellow Australian, fashion designer Dion Lee to name but one accomplishment.
The origin of each refined collection is often a photograph, an image, abstract concepts then pulled from this to develop concept, shape, and form from responsibly sourced precious metals and gems. The pieces themselves are intuitive, delicate, like kisses on the skin. Worn delicately, they form a constellation, a new kind of adornment. To blend skill, knowledge, experience and perhaps even a touch of neuroses, Sarah and Robert have become a supernova. They make their own momentum.
Sophie Flecknoe: Firstly, can you tell me a little about yourself? Where did you grow up?
Sarah Gittoes: I grew up south of Sydney, in a coastal town near Wollongong. Robert Sebastian grew up in Ulm, a picturesque town in the south of Germany, near the Bavarian border.
What is your earliest memory of jewellery?
For a hobby, my mother used to make intricate beaded clip on earrings 80’s style. Its actually one of the earliest memories I have as a child, I remember watching her spend hours creating these incredible designs from wire and wood or colourful crystal beads. I found this fascinating.
What were the origins of SARAH & SEBASTIAN as a label?
The label began as a personal venture, I would make rings and necklaces for friends and family, and occasionally large custom pieces for fashion editorials. I would spend hours on the bench making these pieces and very soon Robert came on board to assist me with keeping up with the demand.
What is your personal definition of beauty?
Confidence is key.
How do you decide on the names of your collections?
The naming of our collections is very much intertwined with the development of each collection and this process takes time. We tend to gravitate toward German translations of an English word. This happens as Robert’s mother tongue is German.
Celestial motifs are the inspiration behind your most recent collection, Nimbus. How do you refine a collection’s theme? Is there a lot of research that is involved? What is the starting point of each collection?
Each collection has started with a work of art or a photograph. We find these seeds of inspiration through travel or research. It normally begins with a clear aesthetic concept which we deconstruct into shapes and lines. From this point we develop the concept through sketching, creating mood boards, hand making samples and then pulling these samples apart and remaking them.
You have collaborated with some impressive names such as Dion Lee in 2013 and 2014. Is there anyone you would love to work and collaborate with?
We are currently designing another collaboration collection with Dion Lee for NYFW. I love this collection as we have explored the concept of jewellery as sculpture. At this stage, I would like to continue working with Dion and focus on developing new lines for the Sarah & Sebastian brand.
Where do you continually find inspiration?
Life, travel, research.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you reach for?
I hate to admit it, but the first thing I reach for is my phone! I check emails and social media and then make an agenda for my day.
Responsible resources are at the heart of your label. Where do you source your materials?
We source most of our materials from a local manufacturer who recycles metal. In addition to this, we reclaim our own scrap materials, melting down and pouring sheet or drawing wire. Our manufacturing is based in our studio in Alexandria, Sydney, all of our jewellery is produced here.
You’re jetsetting to NYC soon, which is exciting. Is travel a major component of your career and lifestyle? What is your dream itinerary?
Yes, I am looking forward to travelling to NYC, it is a wonderful city. I always try to make the time for travel, it’s so important to be stimulated by new experiences. I remember someone once told me ‘all the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired’ and I couldn’t agree with this more.
I am still yet to visit South America; my dream itinerary would involve a visit to Peru to see the legacy of the Inca civilization. Robert and I recently viewed an exhibition of ancient Peruvian artefacts and golden adornments. The jewellery pieces were made from pure gold, silver, turquoise and the metalwork both inspiring and breathtaking. I am eager to trace the origins of these great works.
How do you take your coffee?
Soy latte and twice a day.
Words to live by?
Make your own momentum.