Clothing designer Louiza Babouryan and jeweler Arman Sarkisyan use old-world techniques to craft pieces with a modern edge.
"We're an apple cut in half,” says clothing designer Louiza Babouryan of the closeness she shares with her husband, jeweler Arman Sarkisyan “We’re very similar. That was the initial attraction,” adds Sarkisyan. The couple, introduced by friends while in college, share not only their Armenian heritage but jewelry-maker fathers. “I followed Freud,” jokes Babouryan.
From adjoining studios near their L.A. home, the couple create contemporary pieces rooted in nostalgia. “Our aesthetics are different but they complement each other,” explains Sarkisyan. While he uses ancient processes to handcraft lavish, almost medieval-style jewelry (he’s renowned for his gem-set gold lockets), Babouryan makes ethereal, flutteringly feminine women’s clothes. “I don’t cut and sew, but drape,” she says of her romantic forms. “With jewelry, you must be patient because there are so many steps in the process, whereas I can have a sample at the end of the day.” Their work is a dichotomy—hard and soft, embellished and unadorned—and pairs so perfectly, it often appears in each other’s photo shoots. “She’s my muse,” says Sarkisyan.
From top: Emerald deco earrings with diamonds in 22K oxidized silver, $20,850, by Arman Sarkisyan at OK, Beverly Grove
Their home life also provides creative inspiration. After dropping their daughters at school, they hike Fryman Canyon and return home for breakfast. “It’s like a treehouse,” says Babouryan of the 1950s property, “and it’s filled with things from our travels” [such as Mexico, Singapore, Armenia—all recent trips]. Then, it’s efficiently off to work in their shared car. Weekends are family-focused, and meals a priority. Katsuya for sushi. Little Sister for Vietnamese. They especially enjoy Republique because it brings back memories of their courtship, when it was Campanile. “I love that building. It still resonates with us,” Babouryan says.
Two-tone silk chiffon dress, $1,050, by Louiza Babouryan at A’maree’s, Newport Beach
Reflecting on their decades in L.A., both are quick to note how much has changed, and not just the skyline but methods of living and working. “The fashion world is open to new ways now,” says Babouryan, who is currently designing her fall 2019 collection (her pieces can be found locally at Serafina in San Marino and A’maree’s in Newport Beach, among others.) “School taught us the commercial side and about business plans, and while that’s all relevant, I don’t remember meeting any small designers. It was all jeans and tees. Now, it’s Sonia Boyajian and George Esquivel. I’m proud to be part of that!” she says. “It gives us control over quality too,” adds Sarkisyan, whose work is retailed online at Moda Operandi and Bergdorf Goodman. “L.A. has become a platform for artists,” he continues. “When you’re independent—art, clothing, any industry—it’s the collectors who support you.” In fact, it’s his clients who encouraged him to create a locket ring, a complex mechanical design that has taken years to refine but will debut at Couture in June. “It’s an old idea, but a new way of doing it,” he says, which nicely sums up the way he and Babouryan work. “Stay original and do what you do. If it’s right, it works” is the advice he offers creatives. It’s a view Babouryan shares. “Be a doer,” she says. “Dream it, design it, do it.”
Pieces from Babouryan’s spring/summer 2019 collection
Modal and cashmere blend knit top, $690, and tulle skirt, $540, both by Louiza Babouryan at A’maree’s
Photography by: Gabriel Nivera | model photos courtesy of louiza babouryan | jewelry photos courtesy of arman sarkisyan