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July 31 2014

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A Diet Of Seventies Baubles And Berardi

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The activity inside Padma Lakshmi’s airy East Village test kitchen-slash-jewelry studio and showroom last week covered the gamut of its proprietor’s range of talents. There were offers of a delicious-smelling lentil stew and a cocktail of Champagne and pineapple juice, as well as a gentle insistence to try on various earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from her new Spring 2011 collection.

“The whole thing is very late sixties, early seventies,” explained Lakshmi, sipping a Diet Coke. “I was looking at old pictures of a very young Cher”—something in the air, perhaps?—”and also old pictures of my mother because I just had a baby and was working on photo albums.” Indeed, you could easily envision a young former Cherilyn Sarkisian in one of Lakshmi’s long, multi-strand beaded bibs that recall Masai neckpieces (left) or a pair of hoops strung with a fringe of pink opals. The soft blues, she explained, are inspired by the decade’s denim icon, Steve McQueen.

It’s actually a coincidence that the new line dovetails with the Me Decade bohemia on the Spring runways. Lakshmi rushed to finish the collection after wrapping Top Chef All-Stars in October. “Then I started going through the shows on Style.com to see, ‘Oh, does any of this make sense?’” she said. “And then luckily, it did. I think it’s going to look great with Marc Jacobs—those lovely bohemian blouses.”

As for her wardrobe on the show, Lakshmi requires a bit more structure. “I’ve learned over the seasons. Things that are blousy, like this,” she said, gesturing to her pajamalike black silk jumpsuit, “make me look fat and flabby. You don’t see depth on TV, and in HD, it’s worse.” Her on-air fashion diet is heavy on Antonio Berardi. “As I gain weight in the season, it just sucks you in,” she explained. “I think half my dresses are Antonio Berardi. I love him.”

And of course, her own jewelry, having started the collection almost two years ago because she couldn’t find what she needed: delicate yet impactful pieces that weren’t too jangly or noisy to wear while shooting. Bergdorf Goodman bought the first season, and it’s now at about ten retailers including Bergdorfgoodman.com and Neimanmarcus.com. She just added Saks Fifth Avenue for next spring.

As for what’s next, Lakshmi says, “I don’t have any big plans for world domination. I don’t want to make shoes, or anything. Maybe evenings bags, but I’m really thinking about it just because you asked. I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”

Photo: Courtesy of Padma Lakshmi

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