As you climb the staircase that leads upstairs to jeweller William Griffiths and clothing designer Alice Edgeley’s apartment, an ornate crystal chandelier heralds the entrance to their shared space. Although the apartment consists of only three rooms, each acts as a portal to their individual personalities.
Take the chandelier. Using two crumbling chandeliers rescued from Camberwell market, Griffiths salvaged crystal pieces from each to assemble the masterpiece that enlivens the hallway.
Look closer, and each light bears a tiny cross enclosed within its bulb. The light’s baroque elegance is echoed in Griffiths jewellery - religious iconography is a theme that echoes throughout his work, from memento mori inscriptions that are etched into some of his trinkets, to his medieval cathedral ring, flanked by two menacing gargoyles. If you downsized the light to a miniature, it wouldn’t look too dissimilar to the popular sets of chandelier earrings he makes.
Scanning their collection of books and records, it is easy to see which ones are Alice’s. Titles such as The women we wanted to look like sit comfortably with a biography on the Mitford Sisters, while her favourite author is the quintessentially English Evelyn Waugh. Edgeley’s parents hail from the south of England, and a ladylike sensibility of a bygone era is maintained by their daughter who always has her nails painted and wears heels at night.
Her record collection tells a different story; namely her love of old school ‘90s hip-hop. Names such as Eazy-E and Public Enemy flash by as we flick through. These influences contribute to Alice’s sense of style, as witnessed by the dash of fuchsia in her fringe and her skin-tight mini dress with graphic print. It’s this clash of cultures that also typifies Edgeley’s designs. Her latest collection for spring/summer features the gathered ‘Ava’ skirt with floral print, perfect for “picnics, frolicking and flirting”. Alongside them are the ‘Booty luv shorts’ that ensures “no riding up your ass”.
Despite the couple’s different tastes and reference points, their apartment remains a seamless fusion of both their styles. And when unravelling their past, there are distinct similarities that have marked each of their lives. Like Edgeley, Griffiths’ parents hail from England, albeit the North, and he too has a distinct English sensibility, one that comes from constantly re-visiting his hometown. In fact, their relationship was cemented in both Melbourne and London. Griffiths would serially spy Edgeley around Fitzroy; one time at a performance art piece, where he had to look into a peephole and found her dancing topless to Sean Paul.
When she moved to London and became head seamstress for Christopher Kane, the two kept in touch after Griffiths told her he “fancied” her. While visiting London he invited her to drinks at his friend’s house that happened to be one of Edgeley’s favourite shoe designers, Terry de Havilland, with whom Griffiths often collaborates with. (Walk through the beaded entranceway to Alice’s boudoir, and many of his skyscraper heels line her bookcase). Eventually Griffiths managed to woo her back to Melbourne, and the two married last year. She wore a red dress of her own design and her rings were, of course, designed by her husband.
Both have been in separate, severe car crashes – Griffiths’ morphine-fuelled dreams while recovering from his were images still so present in his mind’s eye, that three months later he used them in his jewellery designs. “I had these really dark dreams and it all started coming out in this work I was making,” he says.
Also, both took to their careers at a young age. Griffiths spent much of his boyhood tinkering at the workshop his father, “who was a crazy inventor type”, created below their family home. “I used to go down there after school and work until it was dark and I was bitten by mosquitoes.” This flair for invention is not only exhibited in his jewellery making, but utilised around the house. He has made a contraption that allows Rupert (Edgeley’s charcoal poodle) to feed Prince (their black cat), a strategy that he thought would make the two friends. As a girl, Edegely always made comprehensive outfits for her dolls, and still loves to make the dolls themselves. “My dolls had beautiful wardrobes….extensive wardrobes,” she recalls. One doll named Violet (which she still has), has a matching nipple ring to Edgeley’s.
When it’s time to leave and Rupert rings the bell on the door that lets us know he wants to be let out, it feels like there are many more stories to hear from these two and more things to marvel at. But it’s time to come out of the rabbit hole.