Mignon’s design career began in 1969 with the launch of her first ready-to-wear collection. New Orleans Magazine featured her designs in an editorial spread.
Mignon Faget’s New Orleans-based design studio and retail operations thrived. In 1976, the Bank of New Orleans featured Mignon’s local success story in a television commercial campaign.
The First Design
As history tells, Mignon was designing clothes and decided to sculpt and design some sterling shells to go with a particular collection. People began walking into her studio and asking to purchase her beautiful sterling shells to wear as pendants. The success of Mignon’s clothing prompted her to explore what might be the perfect belt, pin or necklace to enhance these ensembles. This early exercise and her studies in sculpture from Sophie Newcomb College led to her first jewelry forms. Since then, jewelry has become her all consuming interest in the field of design.
Throughout her life Mignon collected shells from frequent trips to the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard. She explored and translated many of these specimens into metal jewelry designs in her first collection: Sea. “Sea was an experiment. The creations are bold and elegant in their simplicity. When a form is transferred from its natural material into another material qualities remain, new qualities are adopted. This marriage produces a particular vitality, central to my conception.” Mignon continues to draw upon the physical beauty of her environment for inspiration, specifically the teeming life along the Mississippi River, in South Louisiana’s inlets and marshes, and in the Gulf of Mexico. Shop Collection
In 1971 Mignon established a studio in Uptown New Orleans in half of a double-cottage at 714 Dublin Street. She and artist Tim Trapolin painted a colorful countryside landscape on half of the house. The space quickly became too cramped to support her growing business. In 1973 Faget relocated to a house next door at 710 Dublin, where she established her atelier-styled venture with a shop downstairs and a workshop upstairs.
The Louisiana collection began in 1973 with the introduction of the red bean. Louisiana captures what is unique to the environment and transforms these treasures into objects of adornment. Many of the designs relate to Louisiana’s food, culture, and ambiance. Shop Collection
Mignon presented her whimsical Animal Crackers in 1975. This collection, inspired by the boxes of popular animal cracker cookies. Mignon notes, “Humor, whimsy, childhood nostalgia motivated my Animal Cracker designs. With the animal crackers, my aim has been to best express each animal in terms of a certain naïve simplicity and humor.” Shop Collection
Mignon was inspired by the ancient sailors’ craft of knot making in her 1976 Knots collection. “The knot is a richly symbolic form with endless possibilities. As I began to work with this group of pieces, I was fascinated by the flow and feel of fabric, the tension created when it was pulled taut, wrapped tightly. Then translated into metals, these forms take on special fascination – a kind of frozen energy. The knot form becomes a ring or a bracelet, there is a magic effect of wrapping the body.”
For her Five-Knot Cuff, Faget dipped strips of cloth into wax and then wound the strips around a mandrel. The result was a highly textural cuff—her most sculptural piece—that retained the original appearance of the cloth. Shop Collection
A collector approached Mignon with a heartfelt request. He wanted something to give to the woman who broke his heart. Mignon designed a simple heart, adding a garnet tear drop to the design to represent the collector’s heartbreak and unwavering love. Mignon discusses the Bleeding Heart design and processes of jewelry design on WWL-TV’s PM Magazine in 1981.
Bows combines Mignon’s love of fashion and her study of sculpture. The jewelry captures the texture of grosgrain ribbon in timeless precious metals, building on Mignon’s interest in transposing characteristics of textiles from one material to another. Shop Collection
The Fruit collection launched in 1980, consisting of a scaled down interpretation of a fig, pear, apple and pepper to be worn as pendants. Mignon’s earlier Symmetry collection interpreted almonds, peach pits, and pecans with equally stunning realism.
Colonnade and Reeded, both introduced in 1983, reveal Mignon’s lifelong fascination with New Orleans’s historic architecture and the way in which it defines space. As with objects from nature, Faget disassociates individual details from the whole in a process of deconstruction, stylization, and re-interpretation of elements. Colonnade features simplified elements of Ionic and Corinthian capitals. She asserts that working with architect David Waggoner through the years “sparked an awareness of the reductive character of architecture and its use of stylized nature.”
Canal Place Gallery Opens
The Gumbo Necklace interprets the classic New Orleans’ dish complete with okra, shrimp and rice. Like the Red Beans and Rice Necklace, it is a tongue-in-cheek reference to local tradition and Louisiana life. Shop Design
A botany course sparked Mignon’s interest in the concept of passive armament: plants ability to defend themselves with spikes, spears, or thorns. Mignon translated this botanical theme in a series of striking pieces, including the Thorn bracelet. “When you wear the thorns you become the rose, alluring yet armed…”
The Peppers collection includes hot peppers in two sizes and a sweet pepper, also known as a bell pepper. Mignon finds fascination in their simplicity and characterizes them as miniature sculptures.
A colloquium including a trip to Yucatan sparked interest in corn, the grain of the new world. In Zea, Mignon celebrates the physical characteristics of corn, the grain of the new world. Mignon designed Zea using Mayan nomenclature for names in this large body of work latent with strong ritualistic overtones, focusing on the plant’s individual kernel and its textural husk, or “holoch” in the Mayan language.
Mignon Faget at Perdido Bay, Alabama
After working in the studio, a respite at the beach brings inspirations for artistic creation circa 1980s.
After Sea, Faget continued her series of underwater creatures in Gulf Stream, a collection of red fish, speckled trout, yellow fin tuna…caught on the end of a hook and in sterling or gold. This collection was designed to celebrate marine conservation and the opening of the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. Gulf Stream is focused around fish that are indigenous to the southern waters of the United States.
Mignon based Romanesque Return on the Henry Hobson Richardson library’s architectural elements, particularly the voussoirs, medallions and engaged columns from the fireplace, and carved stone figures of the beast of ignorance and the beast of knowledge carved throughout. The Beast of Ignorance Chained bracelet forms an eloquent commentary on the library’s purpose: to educate the public and abate ignorance. Mignon notes, “I found myself deconstructing Henry Hobson Richardson’s intricate architectural details and miniaturizing them as jewelry.” Shop Collection
Mignon continued to explore architectural themes in Schema, particularly the features of classical temple entablatures, including dentils, triglyphs, and metopes. In some pieces Mignon alternates classical motifs with a bull’s skull. Other ornamental patterns include simplified fascia, dentils, and the egg and dart motif, which appears like half an egg alternating with a pointed, or dart-like, design.
Inspired by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508−1580), Faget explores architectural elements removed from the whole that can be re-assembled and stacked to replicate banding motifs from classical architecture. Mignon explains Schema as “a system of classic architectural banding motifs that allows the wearer to enter the design process with me.”
Intrigued by the idea of defining space and dominion and marking off what is yours, Mignon found a fascination in the split-rail fence. In Fences, Mignon created a module of studded, textural posts, executed in sterling silver, to give the appearance of the type of uneven hand-constructed fences seen across America. To further this impression, she lashed the metal components with strips of suede in her bracelets and necklaces. Mignon designed a special “Baton Rouge” Red Stick for the opening of her Baton Rouge gallery. Shop Collection
After 27 years at 710 Dublin Street, Mignon Faget, Ltd. headquarters and studio move to a new location at 4300 Magazine Street.
Mignon views the ring in its circular, unending arrangement as a symbol of unity and eternity, friendship and love. Her Ŏpus collection was created with custom-cut stones and hand selected pearls. “Ŏpus began with the ring,” explains Faget, which is “often the most intimate and meaningful piece of jewelry. Here I was not working within a theme but rather being driven by the stone.”
Ironworks and Ironworks II celebrate the ironwork of the French Quarter; the Cabildo and Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré. Faget’s Marcellino collar and cuff bracelet were inspired by the balconies of the Cabildo. These pieces were named after Marcellino Hernandez, a Canary Islands native credited with forging the Cabildo railings and other Vieux Carré ironwork, including that of Le Petit Théâtre, in the 1790s. For Faget, the city’s decorative ironwork is a metaphor for the resoluteness and fortitude that characterize her fellow citizens and their culture. Faget regards the Ironworks and Interlacement collections as an expression of her deep faith in the city’s recovery post-Katrina, the devastating hurricane of 2005. Shop Collection
Bamboo, one of the world’s fastest growing woody plants, is abundant not only in Louisiana but also in Mignon’s garden. Today the plant enjoys new-found respect as an environmentally sustainable product used in textiles and building materials. In Bamboo, Mignon focuses on the plant’s node as its essential element of strength and energy. Bamboo pays homage to this giant grass for its expression of peace, serenity and persistence.
In 2006, Mignon Faget was honored to be named a Louisiana Legend. Her fellow New Orleanians discuss her impact on the state.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (3:39)
Gulf Coast Restoration
Mignon launched the Gulf Coast collection reflecting her dedication to preservation and conservation. She drew attention to the devastation caused by the oil spill through marine-inspired jewelry placed on black ribbons in the tradition of mourning jewelry.
Historic New Orleans Collection
In 2010, the Historic New Orleans Collection celebrated the life and work of Mignon Faget with an exhibit examining her life’s work. “Mignon Faget: A Life in Art and Design,” displayed hundreds of objects—including jewelry, prints, linoleum blocks, drawings, glassware, and textiles—to explore the remarkable career of the fifth-generation New Orleanian.
The Hive Collection is a study of nature’s starkly geometric honeycomb pattern and a nod to the industrious nature of the bee. Hive features a simplistic distilling of the honeycomb pattern, softened with accents of honey crystal, freshwater pearl and silk ribbon. Throughout her career, Faget has looked to forms found in nature for inspiration. “As HIVE evolved I started to comprehend how the transference to silver and gold informed and enhanced this ordered hexagonal form…” Faget says. Shop Collection
Mignon frequently re-visits past designs, particularly those specifically associated with the State of Louisiana. The Bicentennial Collection celebrates the 200th anniversary of the state’s acceptance into the Union. Sales of this collection benefit the Louisiana Bicentennial and the Louisiana Historical Legacy.
Heir reveals the strength and beautiful form of a seemingly delicate source. I endeavored to transform memories and ephemeral materials into tangible objects of lasting value. Inspired by lacework, these new creations re-examine fashion traditions and explore the heirloom in a personal and modern direction.
The Luz/Obscuro collection represents the duality of life. Luz/Obscuro are both spanish words that translate to light and dark. These are fitting words to describe this collection because they represent the transformation that happens from day to night. Luz is all about sophistication and elegance; exactly how you want to present yourself in the daylight. Nightfall gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself, to become more mysterious or bold in Obscuro.
The Hardwear™ collection explores the hardware store and refines the tough on fragile and hard on soft aesthetic of Mignon’s early clothing designs. Hardwear™ transforms the ordinary to the extraordinary and examines the impending energy formed in the links of industrial chains.
Lock Link presents an ultramodern twist on jewelry design and mines the hidden elegance in industrial materials. Darkness in matte hematite and oxidized sterling silver is juxtaposed with the brilliance in howlite and freshwater pearl. The forms and textures presented in this collection make grand statement pieces that work best for evening wear or formal events.
Inspired by the New Orleans water meter cover, the Crescent Collection pays homage to this iconic symbol of the Crescent City with its modern and effortlessly elegant design. Incorporating moonstone, sterling silver and Swarovski pearls, the collection evokes the night sky’s minimal color palette.
Mignon Faget’s 2018 fall collection, inspired by the iconic Crescent City Connection Bridge, transforms the shape and structure of this architectural design into a collection of jewelry that references the cantilever elements of the Bridge, the Mississippi River, and the night sky of New Orleans.
Bold and powerful, SEA, REVISITED pays homage to Mignon’s first collection and paints a fluid picture that captures the mood and elegance of 50 years of design. Featuring playful interpretations of oyster and spiral shells, the collection speaks to a wide audience and the use of bronze and peach moonstone creates a layered assortment of looks that celebrate curiosity.