As The Great Frog opens its new Shoreditch store, creative director Reino Lehtonen-Riley shares some tips for wearing his designs
- TextAnother Man
When it comes to rock and roll jewellery, The Great Frog is the name you need to know. Founded in the early 1970s, the brand was the first jeweller to break away from its peers and cater to Britain’s burgeoning subcultural scenes: the rockers, punks, bikers and goths and anyone, says creative director Reino Lehtonen-Riley, “on the fringes of mainstream society”. Best known for its rock and roll-style designs, specifically its skull rings, the label has made pieces for Iron Maiden, Lemmy, Slayer and Ozzy Osbourne – and has even appeared in the pages of Another Man (see: Alex Turner’s cover shoot). It’s the ultimate outsider outfitter.
The son of the brand’s founders, Lehtonen-Riley is entirely self-taught, drawing inspiration from rock icons such as David Bowie and Lemmy, but also figures from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. “Rappers like Slick Rick, Ghostface Killah, RZA and Tupac have inspired me for years, they wore huge amounts of jewellery creatively,” he says. “Such over-the-top symbolism that was a strong part of their identity always stuck with me. As a kid, seeing Slick Rick sitting on a gold throne with a foot-high eagle cuff draped in gold jewellery, good teeth and a gold eye patch is just such a striking image – almost like the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.”
Today, The Great Frog opens its second London store in Shoreditch and, with it, launching a new collection titled ‘Lock Down’ which comprises chain-like rings, bangles and bracelets. “It is no coincidence that chain has been a symbolism of oppression,” Lehtonen-Riley says. “But by taking ownership many subcultures have upended this connotation to quite the reverse by adorning their necks, wrists, and clothing as middle finger salute to oppressors, reclaiming it as the ultimate projection of freedom.”
To coincide with the launch of this collection, and the opening of the brand’s new store, Lehtonen-Riley shares some tips for wearing rock and roll jewellery.
1. Less Is More
“Sometimes less can be more – only sometimes. You’ve got to be able to read the situation; if you’re wearing an outfit that’s quite a statement you don’t want to overdo it, a statement piece or two will do. You don’t have to look like Slick Rock or Lemmy at all times – only when the occasion calls for it.”
2. Mix Metals
“Don’t shy away from mixing metals. Traditionally that’s been seen as a massive faux pas but I love the look of silver and gold together, even on the same piece to accentuate designs.”
3. Mix Old and New, Too
“Mix old and new jewellery to tell your personal story. It’s about showing your individuality. It’s like tattoos; don’t go into a studio and get covered in tattoos for the sake of it. Jewellery should mean something, they’re your talismans, they’re part of your story and part of your life. Jewellery should be that important and personal to you that it’s biographical.”
4. Go Big
“Don’t be afraid to go big. All our jewellery is unisex, it always surprises me when I design something with a particular client in mind how striking it looks on smaller hands.”
5. Be Confident
“Most importantly, feel confident about wearing it. Even if you work in a less creative environment, show that subversive side.”
The Great Frog’s new store can be found at 1-4 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3ET.