Some people think of snakes and feel fear. Ashley Porter thinks of snakes and feels inspired to create a unique necklace comprising cobra vertebrae.
Porter is the founder and designer of Porter Lyons, a New Orleans-based company selling jewelry and other accessories, such as purses and belts. Porter has created six collections, using a wide array of materials including metals, crystals, snake and alligator bones and alligator teeth.
Yes, bones and teeth.
Porter’s newest collection, called Voodoo, launches on Saturday. The collection’s statement piece is a necklace made out of 40 cobra vertebrae pieces. Two of the vertebrae are real bone, dyed black, and the remaining 38 pieces are mixed metals, made from a cobra bone cast created by Porter.
“I believe the bones are so beautiful and organic and kind of bohemian,” Porter said. “It’s almost Native American, in the belief that you use every part of the animal.”
A signature collection of Porter’s is the “Backbone” collection, which features rings, cuff bracelets, earrings and cufflinks created from alligator bone castings. She has another collection, “Alligator,” that features jewelry made from gator teeth and skin. Porter handpicks the materials herself from an alligator bone graveyard in Galliano, Louisiana. Sometimes she uses the raw bones and teeth to make lightweight earrings or necklaces. The pieces in these collections range from $95-$425.
“Some people get really grossed out with the bones,” said the 28-year-old Tulane University graduate. “It’s not for everybody, of course, but with people who love it, they love it.”
Not all of Porter’s designs include animal parts. The new Voodoo line has a micro-pavé ring fashioned like a miniature coffin and a series of lightweight gold and silver bangles shaped like arrows, inspired by tarot cards. The “Snake Rada” bangles have ends fashioned into snakeheads, with sapphire, ruby or emerald eyes. Porter said she had those bracelets blessed by voodoo shamans to put “rada” in them, which she explained is the “positive side of voodoo.” Celebrities like Megan Fox, Selena Gomez and Jessica Alba have recently been photographed wearing these latest designs.
“Voodoo is a prominent religion in New Orleans,” Porter said. “It’s so haunting and old.” She said voodoo mimics the mystique of New Orleans and the French Quarter in that sense, and she wanted to bring that to her latest collection.
The designer will celebrate her new collection at a private launch party on the Rice Mills Lofts rooftop on Oct. 25. Her guests will be given the opportunity to pose with live boa constrictors and alligators, just in time for Halloween.