Mckenzie Liautaud is all about good energy. Growing up Haitian American and born and raised New Yorker, Mckenzie finds spirituality at the core of who he is as well as in his designs. He began his career in the fashion industry working as a stylist, and later started designing mens bow ties out of recycled materials (old denim, tweed jackets, excess denim) that were embellished with crystals and safety pins.
Building a clientele, he was hired to create bow ties for a wedding party, and traveled to Ethiopia to do so. On that trip, he collected African beads that inspired him to create a costume jewelry collection. “I have always liked natural stones, and that began with the crystals I added on to my bow ties.”
He continued, “Visiting the hall of gems in the Museum of Natural History gives me a sense of wonder and a feeling of calm. As a young boy I would get lost in the mineral galleries, where I discovered my love of crystals.”
With his first costume collection being a success in New York, Mckenzie was ready to dive into the world of fine jewelry, and began working with natural diamonds. He said, “Natural diamonds are powerful. They give off their own powerful energy.”
Mckenzie is a member of the Natural Diamond Council’s Emerging Designer Diamond Initiative program. “The program really pushed me to learn more about diamonds, and sourcing precious stones. It gave me amazing mentorship opportunities and access to different diamond dealers,” Mckenzie told OND. “This has been an amazing experience. I was able to meet people I looked up to in this space and connect with people that I had dreamed of working with.”
Mckenzie’s pieces are inspired by architecture and the places he has traveled to, one place in particular being Mykonos, Greece. He said, “I was in a trance when I was there. I just felt super spiritual, super calm and I wanted to put that energy in a piece of jewelry, so I combined the crystals and the diamonds.”
One of his signature pieces is his Magic Cupola necklace. “Cupolas are like jewelry, perched on top of buildings around the globe.” He continued, “The Magic Cupola has been my signature piece. I can wear it from yoga class to a black tie event.”
Mckenzie said, “My designs are not just about the actual pieces, they have a touch of me in them. I am able to combine different worlds.” He continued, “These are powerful pieces meant to make people feel better and to lift up your spirits.” He continued, “When you feel good, you can accomplish anything.”
Family plays an important role in Mckenzie’s life. From his father’s advice to his mother’s engagement ring to his grandmother’s bracelet, he considers family to be a great inspiration to him. “My first memory of a diamond is my mother’s engagement ring. It is definitely traditional to the time, it can be worn in three pieces, and it’s something that is inspiring me in a new collection.”
He continued, “My mother is one of nine, and my grandmother passed down pieces of her jewelry to everyone in the family.” He added, “My grandmother left me one of her bracelets, and I carry her with me to this day.”
Mckenzie said, “With jewelry, you can leave a special memory of a person behind. As a designer, I am creating things designed with the purpose of being passed down.
When asked what comes first, jewelry or the clothing, Mckenzie answered confidently, “Jewelry.” He continued, “I love my rock crystal ring.”