LLY Atelier: Forged and Found

Words by Julia Eskins

Photos by Aleyah Solomon

Jewelry designer Agathe Bodineau is as hardcore as the wearable sculptures she creates. But really, would you expect anything less from a self-confessed night owl who wields a blowtorch on the regular? With statement pieces that are all at once minimalist, maximalist, raw and refined, she’s turning the rulebook of jewelry design on its head with her independent line, LLY Atelier.

 

The Montreal-based artist’s studio is filled with creations that beg all kinds of questions: “Is that necklace made out of an animal’s jawbone? And what kind of animal?” (Yes, it was casted from a deer’s jawbone, to be exact.) Beside it are ornamental pieces made out of long dark hair and on a shelf above sits a jar filled with more bones: some found, some received. Bodineau has always been the type to find inspiration in unexpected places, from geology and natural sciences to historical architecture and rock ‘n’ roll. Known to mix rough materials like resins and hair with solid metals and minerals, experimentation is at the heart of her practice.

 

“I’m that weird person who goes and looks for rocks on the ground. This piece was cast from a rock that I found on the railway tracks near Van Horne Avenue,” she says as she points to a silver ring. “The necklace I’m wearing is from pyrite that I casted. More and more, metal is becoming my favourite material to work with. I’m self-taught in metal work but I was trained in visual arts, so I use some of the same sculpture techniques.”

 

When we arrive, Bodineau is finishing a sandwich from Dépanneur Le Pick-Up, a nearby convenience store that’s been converted into a gourmet grill. It’s just one of the many hip spots in the burgeoning Mile-Ex neighbourhood that so many of Montreal’s creatives call home.

 

Bodineau describes her upbringing in the city as “different than most people’s.” Cut off from mainstream media and pop culture during her childhood, she spent most of her time reading books and going to museums. Her interest in art led her to major in painting and drawing at Concordia University.

 

“My love of images comes from my visual arts background,” she says. “I source inspiration from different places but often, I’ll look at photos, artwork, blogs and Pinterest. Most of the time, a concept will come out of a mental image that I try to transpose into a shape.”

 

During our interview, the studio doorbell rings. It’s fashion designer Pedram Karimi, who’s dropping off samples that Bodineau made for a collection he showed at New York Fashion Week. The two met through Montreal’s design community before collaborating on marble pieces reflective of their shared love of minimalism.

 

“I like to work with other designers on some projects. With my own work, I tend to have difficulty delegating. When you collaborate, you have to work within someone else’s limits, so you become even more creative,” she says.

 

Bodineau describes Montreal’s arts community as accepting, which was one of the reasons she decided to return to the city after spending a few years in France. After moving to Europe to work and travel at age 19, and later studying at École des Beaux-Arts de Montpellier, she felt torn between the two continents.

 

“France has a sense of history and culture that we don’t have in North America, but I ended up missing Montreal after a few years,” she says. “In Montreal, there’s a creative community that will be supportive if you start a new project. In Europe, there’s a hierarchy and steps that you have to take before you’re accepted.”

 

Since returning to her native city, her career has taken off, with her creations for LLY Atelier being featured on international runways and in countless magazines. Selling her pieces in boutiques in the United States and Canada including Simons, Boutique Denis Gagnon, Unicorn, Atelier B. and Labour of Love, she’s proving her art can be both commercial and cutting edge.

 

“I try to not limit myself too much. If you compromise your vision, you can become frustrated as a designer. You want to consider what’s possible to wear and to sell in stores, but really, there’s a market for anything, you just have to find it,” she says.

 

Whether it’s a custom engagement ring or a new creative collaboration, Bodineau is leaving no stone unturned. And sometimes, that stone just so happens to be inspiration lying on the pavement. ■

Creative Director/Photography: Aleyah Solomon

Hair & Make Up: Danielle Grasley

Model: Camilia (Dulcedo Management)

© Here & There Magazine