Simplicity spells spare beauty; Candid Closet: Irena Stein of north Baltimore prefers clean lines in the jewelry she designs and the clothes she wears; Fashion


Crafts artist Irena Stein lives by the adage that less is more. For the north Baltimore resident, who recently moved here from San Francisco, a few simple pieces of jewelry and clothing are infinitely more valuable than a crowded house. "I don't like cluttered design in anything," says Stein, 45. "It takes away from beauty and from a sense of design. You end up seeing nothing."

Visitors to the ACC Craft Show at the Baltimore Convention Center tomorrow through Sunday can see Stein's cleanly designed pendants, earrings, brooches and cufflinks made of metal and ceramic and finished with crackle glazes. The materials she uses enhance one another, Stein says. "The ceramic gives color and warmth to the metal, and the metal gives elegance to the ceramic." You will find Irena at booth No. 224 at the show. Admission is $8.50. Call 410-962-1122.

How did your artistic vision evolve?

It's more of a European look. I was raised partly in Europe. I bring it from there, that sense of cleanliness and simplicity. I believe the more simple your dress and accessories, the more ageless they become.

Is your jewelry available elsewhere in Baltimore?

I had a show at Tomlinson with Lauren Schott in October. And in the future, it may be at OXOXO Gallery in Mt. Washington and Zyzyx at the Festival at Woodholme.

How does your own wardrobe reflect your philosophy?

The lines of the clothes I wear are very, very simple and very elegant. They are things that will never go out of fashion. I have the smallest closet in the world, and everything goes with everything. That's my philosophy: When you don't have a big budget, you have to buy really good quality clothes that go with everything.

That goes against the grain in the states.

It's a European thing. The clothes last a long time and you spend usefully. Here, consumerism is pushed down your throat like crazy and you end up with a huge closet full of clothes and you always wear your favorite things anyway.

Whose clothes do you buy?

I love Max Studio, out of California. They're wonderful. The material is exquisite and the lines are fluid. They are just very modern and at the same time, have a classicism that doesn't go away. I also buy from BCBG Max Azria and Lat Naylor of Think Tank.

Do you have to buy these pieces full price?

I get these things at big discount stores, and I even go to second hand stores. In New York, I can go to Daffy's and places like that.

Do you stick with blocks of color?

I do solid all the time: neutral, black, gray, green, terra cotta.

How are you making the transition from San Francisco to Baltimore dressing?

I don't have a winter and summer wardrobe yet. I just layer myself. I know I'll need a summer wardrobe. Summer here is unbearable.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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