The jewellery designer has been collecting treasures for decades, and now she’s sharing her trove on TikTok.
Love supposedly finds you when you least expect it — or, in Carla Rockmore’s case, when you’re on your way to buy a wedding dress. Like any good fairy-tale romance, this one begins with a chance encounter. (And, no, we’re not talking about her husband.) As the story goes, the designer was shopping for a nuptial frock when a silver Konstantino bangle caught her eye. Rockmore was so smitten that she decided to buy the accessory instead of the gown. What could she say? When you know, you know.
Now 56, Rockmore tells the story to her 1.3 million TikTok followers as she dons her wedding outfit circa 2000 — a sparkly pink BCBG Max Azria dress, vintage acrylic wedge heels, a Vera Wang-inspired crystal bouquet and, of course, the bracelet. Then she slips a jean jacket on over the dress and trades out the iridescent posy for a pale-blue clutch. “You are my Carrie Bradshaw,” the top comment reads.
It’s not hard to see why her followers liken her to the Sex and the City character. Honey-coloured curls aside, Rockmore shares Bradshaw’s fondness for finery. Inside her two-storey closet in her home in Dallas is a collection of clothing and accessories that pays homage to her decades-long love affair with fashion. Her assortment of “baubles and bangles,” as she calls them, has its own dedicated wall. The sparkly hoard comprises vintage and designer pieces, some dating back to the ’50s — including her most treasured piece: her mother’s seven-strand pearl choker. And for the past three years, she’s been letting the world into her vast wardrobe via social media, earning her a nomination for the 2023 CAFA Digital Fashion Creator of the Year Award.
Montreal-born Rockmore worked as a clothing designer for most of her career before transitioning to jewellery in 2007. In March 2020, she was in Jaipur, India, working on her semi-precious-jewellery collection, when COVID-19 sent her back stateside. In need of a creative outlet, she began producing styling videos with the help of her tech-savvy Gen Z daughter.
The rest, as they say, is history — or her story. Rockmore’s followers tune in for her sage sartorial advice, like how to style a denim maxi-skirt or buy vintage. As per her TikTok bio, the designer celebrates the “self-expression of 50+.” But her joie de vivre approach to dressing appeals to an ageless audience that ranges from Gen Z to Gen X.
You’ve said jewellery is “where true individual style is expressed.” What do you mean by that?
“Jewellery pieces are little sculptures, and that means they’re art. One person sees an 18th-century painting and falls in love with it, and another person wants a Jackson Pollock. That’s how I see the embellishment of accessories. It becomes a personal journey and an expression of your inner self.”
What is inspiring you these days?
“The late ’60s and early ’70s have always been an inspiration to me. The glam of that era was coinciding with a lot of political unrest in the U.S. at that time, and I find the juxtaposition of those two worlds very interesting.”
You’ve mentioned before — in one of your videos — that it seems to be that as women age, we become “invisible.” Do you think jewellery can make us feel less invisible?
“Absolutely. I mean, who doesn’t love a statement necklace? Jewellery becomes a talisman of who you are. When you’re younger, you might not know as readily who you actually are, but by the time you hit middle age, you’re more confident so you’ll experiment more with bigger pieces.”
Are there any “rules” that you follow for styling jewellery?
“I don’t like to load up on too many pieces at one time unless there’s a very specific reason for it. I like balance and will load up till the cows come home if it’s right. I will wear five chokers in one look if it lends itself to the balance of the entire thing.”
Any tips for winter jewellery styling?
“If you have an event, play around with your earrings. You may need a stud rather than a dangle. It’s all about balance and the look you’re trying to create. The thing about jewellery is, load it up and then look in the mirror and decide if it feels right to you. There aren’t any steadfast rules. But if you have this little inkling that it’s too much, it probably is — take a piece off.”
How has your style changed from when you were in your 20s?
“My style has not changed. Is that scary? I’ve always loved an army pant, a platform shoe, a paper-bag waist, boho. At the same time, I absolutely adore stark minimalism. I just don’t dress the same every day. I don’t put myself into a box.”
You told Vogue in 2021 that you want to buy pieces you can pass down to loved ones. Can you expand on that and how it influences what you choose to buy?
“It definitely influences what I choose to buy lately because of Ivy’s transition. [Rockmore’s daughter Ivy came out as transgender in 2022.] All of a sudden, I have somebody to pass my jewellery down to. At the end of the day, if you’re going to buy something to pass down but it’s not your favourite piece, don’t buy it. Buy things that you love first, and then consider passing them down later on. Enjoy them for what they bring to you.”
You’ve lived in Montreal, Toronto, Europe and now Dallas. How has living in these different places influenced your style?
“I’m always influenced by what I see visually. I’m like a sponge that way. I’m really interested in the way that other people put themselves together. I find it beautiful to notice other people’s style. That’s the one area where I’ve felt a little sad about moving to Dallas — it’s not a walking city, and every other city I’ve lived in is a walking city. It was easy in Montreal to see creativity walking down the street, whereas Dallas is more event-driven so you don’t see as much activity on the streets. But what’s really interesting about Dallas versus other places is the southern charm. Women compliment one another up and down 24/7 here. I find that beautifully inspiring.”
Below, Carla Rockmore’s favourite friend-worthy gifts (which you might just want to keep for yourself).
This article first appeared in FASHION’s Winter 2024 issue. Find out more here.
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