Pluma Italia jewelry worn with Jason Wu Pre-Fall 2013
My own friendship with the man, the myth, the legend began in a cramped trailer while shooting a fashion editorial over two days in Chicago's Millennium Park. A few things went awry, as location shoots oft do (park security wouldn't allow us to climb on statues for an epically-planned acrobatic shot and the model had a mad case of tranny hair, for starters) and all the while, Cannon remained cool, calm and collected. At the impromptu wrap party back at his hotel suite, he was righteously hailed as the shoot's MVP.
Many years later, not much has changed, he's still the adorable, fiercely-talented stylist I knew then, but when we met up for dinner at Landmarc in Columbus Circle a few weeks ago, he proudly clutched the lookbook for Pluma Italia, his new jewelry line for which he serves as Creative Director.
“This is going to be huge,” he whispered with a grin. “Bigger than I can even imagine. I’m so excited to start this new chapter.”
I opened to the first page of the lookbook – a selection of bold, black-and-silver geometric cuffs and chokers from the Nero collection – and saw what he meant. Pluma Italia is a gorgeous montage of statement pieces, grouped by aesthetic, all made in family-run factories in Italy. The attention to quality and detail leaps off the page.
The muse of the collection is the cuff. Cannon’s favorite is a rock 'n' roll-inspired black leather and gunmetal version. He says Pluma Italia’s cuffs can be dressed up or down as statement pieces, but also paired together to complement more demure pieces in the line. “I designed the tortoise collection, for instance, to be worn as a set,” he says. “You can wear the rope link chain with the cuff, as well as the bangle. It just looks modern and cool. I always thought tortoise skewed a little older, more to the Palm Beach crowd, but it’s quickly becoming a signature of Pluma Italia.”
Other collections within the lookbook are the Bianco (“Based on my love and affinity for Halston”) and Day-Glo. I envision the young jet-set crowd layering the latter in South Beach and a Grace Jones-esque fashion scene regular rocking the Bianco large cuff with double silver bands (Ms. Jones, by the way, is one of Cannon’s biggest inspirations).
“My chicest friends don’t have one particular style – they have many based on the events they go to and parties they attend,” he says. “They’re chameleons in terms of color and mood. This collection is designed for that modern woman, who has many different personas depending on what’s she’s doing that evening or during the day.”
Cannon says he sees the line on younger actresses like Amanda Seyfried and Dakota Fanning (“such a media darling”), as well as Hollywood fashion staples like Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman. Still, the collection’s breadth is wide enough to encapsulate multiple styles for multiple occasions. “I wanted the line to be inclusive, one that any woman could wear,” he says. “It’s a celebration of women. It gives a nod to inspirational figures from Diana Vreeland to Diane von Furstenberg, Emmy to Frederique Van Der Walt, Betty Davis to Nancy Sinatra…”
It’s an eclectic list of historically significant women, especially for someone who came to age in a much more modern era. Cannon grew up in New York and went to high school on 16th St. (“a punk rock 'n' roller with dyed hair”). He wanted to be an actor and then went into journalism, eventually working at Channel 2. One day, at the request of a model friend to accompany her to a photoshoot (bribed with the promise of good catering), he started putting clothes together on set to help out. Therein lies the lightbulb moment and that 25-year-old has never looked back.
“I’ve definitely made mistakes in my career,” he confesses. “Starting a company isn’t easy; starting two companies is almost impossible. But if I have any advice for someone who wants to get into this business, it’s to believe in yourself and what you do. Find a mentor. Always be on time. Work as hard as you can. First impressions are everything. And don’t be afraid to fall. Because you will – and you’ll get right back up again.”