Daemon Concept: the radical jewellery label making high-fashion weaponry
Designer Sophia Rotas joins forces with Yves Tumor to create a collection inspired by women walking home at night that doubles as self protection
Every woman knows the unpleasant feeling that often comes with heading home in the darkness on our own. Sometimes walking with the keys between our fingers, other times skipping the headphones so we stay fully aware of our surroundings, but almost always fearing, however slightly, for our safety. With her new collection, Chrysalis, jewellery designer Sophia Rotas recalls the violence women, and especially trans women, face every day. “It’s something that is continuously present in our society and not an abstract notion,” explains the founder of Daemon Concept.
For a little over six years now, Rotas has been designing wearable artworks from recycled silver, gaining fans in the form of Hunter Schafer, Grimes, and Mugler muse Eartheater. For her latest offering, she’s now teamed up with none other than mastermind Sean Bowie, who you might know better as radical musician Yves Tumor. With Bowie fascinated by Rotas’ unique vision of beauty, the collection has been three years in the making, with each piece coming imbued with memories both good and bad. On the line-up are protective lip cuffs that curl under the chin, ferocious pincer and blade earrings, and jagged knuckle-dusters which encompass all four fingers.
“We go through life and experiences that echo within us, which is the hidden meaning of the new collection,” says Rotas. “We make sense of the aggression, and often the sexual aggression that surrounds us, which is something we can’t always control. There’s renewal and beauty, but it’s marked from within with the DNA of memories written in blood.” But violence is only one half of the story, with Bowie’s favourite piece from the collab the ‘Chrysalis’ ring. “I was inspired by this ring my first crush in high school would scratch against my skin when we would hook up,” they recall. “It was a band with a very small shark ‘hook’ or ‘fin’ on it. It was such an amazing feeling that I really wanted to recreate.”
As Daemon Concept and Yves Tumor’s Chrysalis collection lands, here, Rotas discusses the collaboration, coming up with the concept, and pushing the boundaries of creativity.
Hey Sophia! So first of all, how did you meet Yves Tumor? What do you value about him, personally, but also creatively?
Sophia Rotas: I will never be on the level of effortless sartorial elegance. He makes anything look expensive, and I’m really socially awkward while he is really present. But I think we are both selfish and self-sacrificing in similar ways, and have patterns to leave things we like behind whilst always maintaining integrity towards our work. One of the first times I met him was almost ten years ago, when we were dancing at a warehouse together. I remember that I asked him to put his shirt back on – out of some misplaced idea of etiquette that I too often entertain – so I would not be next to a shirtless guy. Not to mention, he was wearing a neon green mesh top.
Your collaboration Chrysalis has been in the making for almost three years. How did the idea start in the first place, and how did it evolve?
Sophia Rotas: It was just growing on its own, sort of like a seed out of concrete in the side of a skyscraper. Natural beyond nature. And then, it just came out beautifully and started demanding its own life, and here we are. I really think these pieces are forever.
“[The collaboration with Yves Tumor] was just growing on its own, sort of like a seed out of concrete in the side of a skyscraper. Natural beyond nature. And then, it just came out beautifully and started demanding its own life, and here we are” – Sophia Rotas
What is your fascination with jewellery all about?
Sophia Rotas: I feel when picking your artistic discipline, your relationship with time will determine your path. The best practice is to choose the mode of creation based on our inner rhythm. I also like this old world attitude of meaningful gifts that make me want to give nice jewellery to a particular person. The first design we ever made was a key shaped cross for someone I had this transformative love for. There is something about turning an intangible emotion into a physical object.
Give us a glimpse inside your creative mind. How do you usually approach ideas?
Sophia Rotas: We look at very mainstream and pop things like Japanese goth magazines and shift back to our teenage selves whilst doing so. And then there is this moment of enjoyment that I’m an adult and much richer than my 12-year-old self, and that I can literally do anything I want. It’s really fun to change the values and scale the detailing of punk accessories. I recently had a penchant for doing the same with power dressing, by infusing office looks with this corporate vampire or devil’s advocate kind of vibe. I can’t just become an adult with no fuss like others do. There has to be drama and there has to be some sort of big, ostentatious gesture – turning the world of finance upside-down, and bringing in some element of sorcery. I can’t wait to see the ear studs of the collection worn together with sharp suits.
A lot of the designs from Chrysalis have sharp elements to them, so it’s almost as if they double as self-protection. Can you talk a little bit more about the idea behind that?
Sophia Rotas: We go through life and experiences that echo in us, which is the hidden statement of the new collection. We make sense of the aggression, and often the sexual aggression that surrounds us, which is something we can’t always control. There’s renewal and beauty, but it’s marked from within with the DNA of memories written in blood. Chrysalis recalls the violence women and especially trans women face every day. It’s something that is continuously present in our society and not an abstract notion. I experienced it, and everyone I know experienced it.
And yet, being feminine and fragile is a feeling I would like to maintain and cultivate – maybe we need high fashion weaponry. No matter how educated and fancy you become, misogyny and violence is real, the bodies it happens to are real. And when bodies break, shame comes with it. On some level, you feel responsible for bad things that happen to you. I think many of us carry hardcore PTSD, and are forced to fear the past even when the source of threat has been removed. It’s a shameful feeling that what nearly killed you didn’t make you stronger – unless you really try. We wanted this collection to acknowledge violence, but also allow you to forgive yourself the things you’ve done in survival mode, which is the most important part there is.
“Chrysalis recalls the violence women and especially trans women face every day. It’s something that is continuously present in our society and not an abstract notion. I experienced it, and everyone I know experienced it” – Sophia Rotas
How do you manage to push the boundaries of creativity?
Sophia Rotas: They say you can’t put your hand into the same river twice. Time is linear – the conversation around art then must also be linear. And then there is another sentiment that says: time isn’t a river, it’s a jungle. And for me, right now, this one feels closer. Finding what has forever value contrary to obsessing over continuous reinvention makes my connection to my ideas less hostile, and they are kinder to me in exchange.
What do you want people to feel when wearing your artworks?
Sophie Rotas: Like younger gods, untouchable by any source of darkness.