Fashion designer Misha Nonoo had a busy September. First there was the launch of her collaboration with longtime friend Meghan Markle: a capsule collection of workwear to benefit U.K. charity Smart Works. Then there was her star-studded Roman wedding with a guest list counting Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Prince Harry and Markle (rumor has it Nonoo is the matchmaker responsible for their first date). In between, there was the opening of her pop-up shop, christened during New York Fashion Week with a bash attended by the likes of Princess Eugenie and Karlie Kloss.
Of all the high-profile names buzzing in Nonoo’s orbit, though, one particularly piqued our interest: Pat Saling. Nonoo enlisted the esteemed dealer to install a selection of her lust-worthy collection as part of the pop-up shop. A sampling of Saling’s wares, usually only available by appointment at her midtown salon, are now available to purchase at the store, which is open through December. With all due respect to the Duchess of Sussex, this is the Nonoo collaboration at the top of our list.
At first glance, it’s unexpected alliance. Nonoo is known for sleek, fuss-free renditions of wardrobe staples. Her brand of pragmatic minimalism isn’t an obvious match for Saling, who typically deals in masterworks from the likes of Belperron and Boivin. But seeing them side by side at the airy, whitewashed boutique on Soho’s Greene Street, the pairing feels completely natural. Indeed, the whole thing came about organically: the idea was hatched while Nonoo, a jewelry collector and longstanding client, was shopping at Saling’s salon this past summer.
“Her clothing is so geared towards a woman who’s on the go and is so compatible with the jewelry we’re showing here,” says Saling. “It’s really all morning-to-night clothing and morning-to-night jewelry.”
Somewhat playing against type, Saling curated a selection of jewels with the same versatile, nonchalant appeal as Nonoo’s designs: perennially chic chain-link bracelets, diamond sautoirs, stackable rings. “We’re trying to fill a gap of good jewelry that’s wearable,” Saling explains. “That a young woman can wear to work then go out to dinner in and not feel like she’s wearing her mother’s jewelry.” The result is a keenly edited beginner’s guide to collecting jewelry classics.
Just don’t expect to find the usual, ubiquitous suspects; even at her most accessible, Saling’s selection is exquisite. Those chain-link bracelets? There’s a pair of 1960’s two-tone Georges L’Enfant’s that can be connected to form a necklace and a 70’s Chaumet with funky, Brutalist charm (“The seventies is warming up to me again. Before, it was kind of like ‘I lived through it, why would I buy it?’”). Other highlights include delicate Edwardian diamond pendeloques, a perfect pair of Cartier bamboo hoops, slinky brass gingko leaf earrings by artist-jeweler Paul Oudet and a jet cuff emblazoned with diamond pavé lips from Gianni Bulgari’s Enigma collection. The assortment will be refreshed monthly, with an array of unconventional pearl pieces arriving in October and bigger-ticket items for the holidays.
The many 20th century treasures are complemented by contemporary jewelry staples of Saling’s own design. Just as Nonoo offers customers the consummate blazer or pencil skirt, Saling produces exemplary jewelry box basics. They include a sinuous diamond-studded rope necklace, smooth as a slip of silk thread, and the finest diamond stacking bands. Saling’s cufflinks, polished rectangles of lapis or onyx punctuated with a single diamond baguette, are particularly well-suited to the French cuffs of Nonoo’s best-selling “Husband” shirt (an item that Debrett’s fanatics may recognize from Markle’s first public appearance with Prince Harry).
This marks Saling’s first foray into the world of downtown retail, and her first time selling in a venue that doesn’t have her first name on the door. In this new context, it’s easy to imagine how Saling’s jewels will entice millennial shoppers. Nonoo has championed sustainability as a cornerstone of her collection, using deadstock fabrics and producing items to order to drastically reduce waste. It’s yet another reason for her synchronicity with Saling. “We’ve been good environmental stewards because we’ve always been repurposing jewelry,” says Saling. “I always say, we don’t really own anything. We’re just caretakers.”
Particularly now, as sustainability has been a hot-button topic at many of this season’s fashion shows, the environmentally conscious appeal of buying vintage jewelry is a major selling point. But perhaps most of all, vintage encourages women to forge their own, individual sense of style. “The whole idea of having an old piece of jewelry is that it’s something you aren’t going to see again,” Saling notes. “Women are getting tired of being dictated what to wear. They’re breaking out of that. And I hope so — it’s so much more fun when everybody has their own style.”