(NEW YORK) Sustainable jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning celebrated the opening of her new 4,500-square-foot flagship at 12 Wooster Street last night with a packed house. Supermodel Amber Valletta was on hand to help her friend celebrate and looked stunning for the occasion in a slim cut-out black dress. While Manning’s first store is in Berkley, California, this is her biggest space. The Soho digs host not only to the retail store, but also a wholesale space, and a sales and marketing office. That’s only upstairs: on the downstairs level, there’s a design development space, photography studio, kitchen, full entertainment space, and Manning’s own office.
“I wanted to have the space for eight years, and I was actively in the real estate market for close to five. I was always looking trying to find something that felt authentic,” said Manning. “I just really wanted to create a vision for the brand that was tangible so people could understand where we’re coming from. This building hadn’t been touched. I walked in and I just knew. The walls weren’t there; it was just a big giant empty space. I was really impressed with the pieces that I could work with in the space, like the skylight in the back and the old safes. It just resonated with me.” Before Manning set up shop, the space had housed other creative endeavors like a photographer’s studio and a videographer’s digs. Originally, it housed a company that sold sewing machines and manufactured needles.
While the space plays host to Manning’s coveted baubles, it also will sell other sustainable jewelry pieces from friends of Manning like Pamela Love, Blair Brown, Judy Geib and Mark Davis, to name a few. “The idea is that you can come into the space and get a sustainable gift. These are relationships I’ve built over the last 15 years that I really respect. We wanted them to come and be a part of our community through the space and offer the consumer the ability to connect with all of us,” said Manning. “There’s a perception of fashion as being so competitive, but all of my best friends are people I’ve met through work. They’re really amazing designers, and I’m proud to have them as part of our store.” And judging by the number of attendees last night, Manning has about as many friends as she does fans.