Mckenzie Liautaud, Redefining Personal Jewels
Mckenzie Liautaud is a Haitian American designer who draws inspirations from his travels, creating unique and multicultural jewelry. He hopes to bring balance and harmony to society through his pieces. Always prioritizing sustainability and ethical work, Mckenzie has created groundbreaking collections that “integrate Afrocentric design elements into the Western style.” Read along to learn more about Mckenzie Liauatud’s work.
With your passion for traveling, can you share with us a specific moment or place that has significantly inspired you? How has it inspired the aesthetic of your pieces?
ML- Six years ago, I visited Mykonos for the first time; walking into Scorpions was spiritually transforming for me. It was cinematic. The sun was glowing above the bluest waters, the trance house music had people rocking and swaying. It was Nirvana. This inspired my creative process, and set the vibe for how I want my clients to feel in my jewelry.
Tell us about your creative process. What is the most gratifying part? How do you work with new customers?
ML- One of the most gratifying parts is working with African bead & art dealers, whose families have been purveying African Art & crafts for generations. Not only do I find inspiration, but its also education. We have an e-commerce site, and work with clients by appointment at our showroom in the Diamond district.
Your “Tribal Disruption” line was groundbreaking, as you designed the collection from the viewpoint of a tribes person who had just discovered elements from the western world. What was it like to create this radically different collection? What inspired you to do it?
ML- I designed the Tribal disruption collection to integrate Afrocentric design elements into Western style. It seems that African design has largely been separated & often times used by other western designers, such as a Safari collection.
As a Black-owned business in 2021, how has the Black Lives Matter movement and the events of 2020 affected you both personally and professionally?
ML-The Black Lives Matter movement has shined a brighter light on inequality on all industries, including the design industry. Designers & makers of color in the U.S are just now getting recognized for their work and contributions. Personally, I need to believe the tragic loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others are not in vain. But move our global society towards eliminating injustice & involving towards enlightenment.
“Tribal Disruption” was launched at the Fivestory. What was it like to see your designs in an acclaimed boutique from the launch start? Where would you love to see them shown next?
ML- The Five Story was the perfect backdrop for this collection because it could be featured side by side with internationally renowned brands. Five Story also introduced my ideas to a new audience of consumers who are not just stylish, but influential. My most recent collection, The Power Crystals, connects with positive energy in the minds & body & spirit. Its high fashion, wellness & spirituality combined perfect for Bergdorf Goodman, Lane Crawford & Matches .
Celebrities such as Lizzo, Maluma, Lil Nas, Shakira and Billy Porter have worn your pieces. Who is the next celebrity that you would like to see wearing your jewelry, and which pieces?
ML- Jennifer Lopez has channeled her highest powers & we both grew up in the Bronx. So she is quintessentially the Mckenzie Liautaud woman. I would love to see JLo in my Power Crystal necklaces.
You started your business in 2010 with men’s accessories. What inspired you to get into the fashion and jewelry industry? How was the transition from designing men’s accessories to creating your jewelry collections for women?
ML- I grew up in a large Haitian household & cherished those experiences of getting dressed for weddings and celebrations. It increased my awareness of both cultural & individual style. I began designing Men’s accessories because there was a huge void for high fashion Men’s accessories & learned that many women were purchasing my products. So it was a natural business move to increase sales by creating a Women’s line.
What was the first piece of jewelry you ever designed? What has changed since then?
The initial collection was putting together existing elements & creating a new product. Now my approach is to start with raw materials, and create an original piece of jewelry.
Who has been your greatest influence in the jewelry industry?
KAZUKO, the late & legendary Mystic Jewelry designer, created a new lane in high fashion fine jewelry using materials with intrinsic monetary values combined with materials of spiritual value. I believe she and I approach design similarly.
With your goal of building a conscious brand, what do you want Mckenzie Liautaud to represent? What do you want your company to be known for?
I want Mckenzie Liautaud to redefine & contribute to the spectrum of important, personal pieces of jewelry without being labeled a black designer. I’d like Mckenzie Liautaud to be known for creating timeless, unique pieces of jewelry that makes you feel good inside & out