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The first time we set eyes on Nicole Romano's statement-making jewelry, it was what we call a "hello, lover" moment. As in, hello black onyx tassel necklace that will elevate anything we own. And hello, rhinestone and chain earrings that we positively need. The New York-based designer –and former Nicole Miller protégé –has such a knack for fierce, dramatic styles that we’re not at all surprised her Hollywood fan club features fashion icons like Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, and Kate Hudson. (The rest of us can score her eye-catching pieces everywhere from CharmandChain.com to Rent the Runway, or pop by her boutique in the Plaza Hotel to nab a limited-edition design.) Here, Romano opens up the doors of her personal closet to share her tips for accessory storage, her love of Louboutins, and her logic behind piling on the bling.
What’s your trademark style?
Black eyeliner, tons of jewelry and always high heels.
What’s the most cherished item in your wardrobe?
The gold family crest signet ring that my father passed down to me. It’s on my hand 99% of the time, and I’ve worn it most of my adult life. The ring bares a lion for bravery and strength, a knight's helmet for wisdom and protection and a row of three stars representing celestial goodness and nobility. In a bizarre way, it gives me strength.
What's on heavy rotation in your wardrobe right now?
Christian Louboutin Sablina mules, my Vivienne Westwood denim motorcycle jacket, and a Nicole Romano clustered rosette necklace that I designed in 2009 and remains my favorite piece today.
Who are your go-to designers?
Fellow RISD graduate Prabal Gurung is one of my favorites. I also enjoy modifying my own pieces. For example, I added black leather and feathers to one of my favorite sharply-tailored vintage bustier dresses. Creating is more fun than shopping.
What would your dream closet look like?
Think Marie Antoinette's boudoir, with ceiling-to-floor doors, a wall dedicated to shoe worship, and velvet-lined thin drawers to house all my jewelry collections. [Our flocked hangers, available in ten chic color combinations, are the finishing touch!]
How do you organize your jewelry collection at home?
I bought steel baking racks from a metalsmith that hold cooking sheets I lined with linen. This is the most efficient way to store my many pieces while arranging them in a visually pleasing way.
What's your favorite piece of style advice?
To quote Anna dello Russo, "Wear lots of jewelry. The sound of jewelry banishes bad thoughts and bad ghosts."
Who are your style icons?
One is Maria Felix, because her individuality and inimitable style separated her from the rest. She was a true jewelry connoisseur and lived by no one's rules but her own. Giovanna Battaglia is also an unparalleled, fearless beauty –and my personal muse. Her world of style is an intriguing blend of glamour, travel, and humor, as well as a keen sensitivity to the little and meaningful details of life. She too wears a signet ring.