>> Tom Binns has long been fashion cult favorite with an enfant terrible streak — his Venice Beach studio is all white walls except for two paintings, one which reads "Vague, Vogue, Vomit," and the other pictures a Chanel logo next to the McDonald's Golden Arches and a swastika. He left the New York fashion scene after 9/11, doesn't own a car — instead begging rides to Whole Foods — and doesn't even go to Paris to sell his collection to buyers, leaving that to his staff. "I don't want to go, I don't want to dress up, I don't want to have people . . . checking me out, saying, 'Why are you wearing those shoes — they're not really happening,'" he told the Los Angeles Times.
But he's not being shy about business »
But he just opened his first store — in New York — last month, and has been gradually expanding his distribution. Michelle Obama brought him greater recognition when she wore one of his necklaces last June and in February. And now, he's preparing to take his business to the next level — he says that could mean taking on a financial backer, making bags or T-shirts, or even, if Target was willing to go in with him, doing a mass retail collaboration.
Expansion or not, he'll always have that element of surprise that keeps his jewelry unique; his collections even manage to surprise him sometimes. Last month, he introduced his Get Real collection, using laminated magazine cutouts of jewelry — "I appropriated appropriations. This is Lanvin, this is Cartier," he says, pointing to the two-dimensional gem cutouts assembled into a collar. "I cut up the jewelry, stuck it all together and reassembled it" — during Paris market week as a joke. But it was so well-received, he decided to manufacture the line, and is selling the pieces for $100 each. "If you can't afford the real [stuff], you can have a paper cutout," he says. "It's virtual jewelry! I'm virtually rich!"