By Syune Arakelyan
"Jewelry for Rap Gods and Mortals Alike"-this is the title of the article by The New Your Times, which refers to the Armenian American jewelry designer Alex Moss. While studying at the Parsons school of design in 2016, Moss started his internship at the jeweler Avianne & Co, then created his own brand, Alex Moss New York in 2020. The designer now represents his new line, "Cathedral of Dreams" featuring crosses, crucifixes, angels, the face of Jesus, and other Christian and gothic images emphasized by his unique style and imagination.
His jewelry is now a usual part of the hip-hop culture. One of the most famous clients of the jewelry designer is the world-known rapper Drake. The piece made for the rapper took 14 months to be created, and his reaction was just a "WOW".
NEWS.am STYLE's ArmenՅԱՆs features an interview with the Armenian American jewelry designer. Here we talk about Moss's roots, inspirations, and, of course, the iconic celebrity collaborations.
Alex, your recent collection, "Cathedral of Dreams", is inspired by the concept of Christianity. How did this idea come to you? Was it a special stage of your life that you had somehow to express the jewelry?
I have always been inspired by gothic churches, cathedrals, and that kind of motives, so growing up Armenian and going to church, all the time seeing these artworks and then being interested in other cathedrals- I think that was definitely part of the inspiration.
Do your Armenian roots have any impact on your works?
My Armenian roots definitely have an impact on my work also because Armenian people have been in art and jewelry for thousands of years, and we've designed a lot of art works for the Persian empire, for the Turkish empire... Just knowing that our cultural history had to do with jewelry and making art, definitely has an impact on the confidence I have, and knowing our roots, gives me an energy booster for my back for sure. Creatively, though, to be honest, the Armenian style does not really impact my work. As for now, it's not in my current collection, but in the future, I definitely will try to incorporate it with some Armenian artwork.
Speaking about your Armenian roots, are both of your parents Armenians?
My Dad is from Iran, he is Iranian Armenian, and my Mom is from Canada, but her parents are from Egypt, they are Egyptian Armenians. My Mom's side fled from the Genocide and ended up in Egypt, like a lot of Armenians.
Growing up far from Armenia, were the Armenian culture, and traditions present in your life? Do you speak or understand the language?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, but the Armenian culture was present in our lives because we have an Armenian community there, and so I grew up with all the Armenian people. I went to a Saturday school. The only time I went to Armenia was in 2007 when I was graduating from Saturday school.
I speak the language and can understand both dialects. When I was in Armenia, that was a crazy feeling, that I can not explain. After the trip, I told myself this is like the best trip ever, it was so much fun. It was a super unbelievable experience. I would love to come back, and I have to come back for sure. Actually, all of my 3D design team is in Armenia, we have 3–4 people that we work with, so we're helping out the Armenian economy, not only because of that but also because the work is very well done.
Since when have you been engaged in fashion? How the interest came to you?
I've been engaged in fashion since I was super young. I used to go shopping downtown when I was still in high school. Furthermore, I started working on a brand when I was in high school and I did it really well, but I wanted to be bigger, and that's why I moved to New York to go to Parsons.
The fashion interest came to me, I guess, growing up and just paying attention to different athletes, rap artists, and different parts of the culture that I was interested in. No one in my family is in jewelry design, though.
You started your own brand, Alex Moss New York in 2020, and already have celebrity clients like Tyler, the Creator, ASAP Rocky, Chief Keef, and Drake! How did you start these collaborations?
One thing for sure was I knew that I had a crazy talent for design and I'm on the creative side, so that's something that you can't kinda learn or do like you can not learn to be a Michael Jordan and play basketball as good as him. And the other thing why all these artists come to me for jewelry is that we're providing them the top level of quality and craftsmanship when it comes to jewelry, and, of course, we give them designs and creative products that don't exist anywhere else.
The piece for Drake has a very interesting story behind it, how was his reaction when seeing it? (the piece titled “Previous Engagements” for all the times he thought about it but never did it.)
Drake and I were both speechless and shocked and just mouths dropped because we looked at the chain together when it was done with a call by FaceTime, so it was a speechless moment.
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Are there any celebrity orders you’re working on at the moment?
Yeah, I got a few celebrity orders. Stay tuned! It's going to be crazy. We're going to have a really iconic moment for about a week, but I can't mention any names for now.
Alex, do you plan to have a shop in Armenia? How can people in Armenia get any of your pieces?
As for the shop in Armenia, I think not any time sooner. But people in Armenia can definitely get my pieces, our website ships internationally.
In recent years, Armenia doesn’t live its best days. Do you follow the news about Armenia and Artsakh? And how does it all affect you?
I just don't watch the news in general just because it throws me off my creative process, but I usually speak to my team members in Armenia, I ask them all the time how are things going on, and it's not a good feeling, of course. Definitely in the future, I have a lot of plans and a lot of projects that I want to do with Armenia, for Armenia to help to grow the country's economy, for the bright kids of our future to become the amazing businessman and creative people we know they can become. This is something I'm really looking forward to in the near future. I believe that Armenian people are super talented and have a lot of potentials, and I just think that if the others had the same opportunities, the same education, and the same vision someone like me does here, we can be a very successful group of people.
Photos from Alex Moss Instagram
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