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The Readymade Punk

Michael Mercanti's jewellery line Speech is "talking a universal language" with its focus on recognisable hardware.

If Marcel Duchamp and Keith Richards had ever crossed paths, the result would surely look like something out of Michael Mercanti’s new line of gritty chic jewellery, Speech. His collection of predominately statement necklaces are not merely necklaces in the simplest sense, but handcrafted pieces of wearable art. Objects of the everyday (think spoons and safety pins) are transformed into adorned Readymades for this generation of fashion-conscious Dadaists.

What began as a hobby for the 22 year old Toronto based designer while toiling away at a design internship has become his virtual addiction. Already on his second collection since launching last November, everything from leather to feather has become folly to his manipulating hands. But Speech ain’t all about arts and crafts. Boogieing down during late working nights also played a big part in Mercanti’s rock ‘n roll aesthetic. “I was definitely listening to a lot of Joy Division and Guns & Roses” laughs the designer. Taking a cue from G&R front man Axel Rose, The line is unisex and totally wearable by those guys and gals who tend to pile on the eye liner. “Speech is talking a universal language”, says the designer.  

Mercanti’s second instalment, cleverly entitled Hardware, features a number of everyday toolbox inhabitants all shined up and ready to wear. A curved nail that looks on the verge of decay has been dipped in oxidized silver, and hung on the end of a delicate antique chain. A letter opener has been gilded and similarly hung to look just like the sword of Jack Sparrow (who knew a lady’s night-time protector could drape from her neck…)

Mercanti is ambitious enough to refer to his new venture as ‘not just a jewellery line but a lifestyle’. And while admittedly, lifestyle rarely has much to do with jewellery (save bling, of course) – we are utterly transfixed by Mercanti’s world of anarchist charm. Transfixed enough to stay tuned.