'Top Chef' star burns with creativity on other side of the stove
The creativity of Padma Lakshmi, best known for her role on the Bravo cable television network's Emmy Award-winning "Top Chef," extends beyond the kitchen.
Lakshmi combines her interest in archaeology, her passion for other cultures, her knowledge of gem stones and her creative talents to design a banquet of jewelry called the Padma Collection.
Mitchells of Westport carries her jewelry line and, on Thursday night, Lakshmi made an appearance there for the Ultimate Accessories Fashion Event, a jewelry trunk show and pre-season shoe buying opportunities from Jimmy Choo. Shoppers had an opportunity to try on Lakshmi's designs and get a sneak peak at next season's Jimmy Choo shoes.
The Padma Collection is as eclectic as the designer herself, and comprises more than 40 pieces, including earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings containing precious and semi-precious stones. Lakshmi said her jewelry designs are influenced by archaeology, art and cultures throughout the world.
"I'd never seen her jewelry. It's so beautiful. They're simple but beautiful," Brown said.
Meghan Prior, 17, of Westport, tried on several pieces including a delicate necklace and a bold bracelet. "That particular piece had movement and life to it. It was very interesting and appealing," Prior said of the bracelet.
"It's nice to see them on other people," Lakshmi said. She said she doesn't have the opportunity of seeing how they look on others as she's designing the pieces for the collection.
The multi-talented, multi-lingual Lakshmi is also co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America and a portion of Thursday's proceeds went to her cause. The non-profit organization works to raise awareness of the reproductive disorder, advocates for research, promotes early detection and effective treatments, and provides funding for women unable to afford the necessary corrective surgery.
Lakshmi had stage four endometriosis, one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Her condition went undiagnosed and misdiagnosed until she was 36 years old. Lakshmi was treated and gave birth to a baby girl a year ago.
"March is Endometriosis Month and that's why we felt it was important to do this trunk show and fund-raiser in the month of March, not only to raise money that we need for the things that the organization does but also to raise awareness in a fun way and to get women more engaged," Lakshmi said.
"She's very passionate about the cause. Her jewelry is ready to wear, something you would wear every day and that's something customers relate to. You don't have to save it for special occasions. There's no reason to wait," said Debra Gampel, an employee of Mitchells of Westport.
Wendy Doyle, who co-hosted the event with Lakshmi, said she had trouble getting pregnant because of endometriosis. "I think it's wonderful that Padma started this organization because a lot of young women have symptoms but don't realize what they are. By the time they want to get pregnant it's a lot harder (to conceive) but if you identify this earlier it can be easily taken care of," said Doyle, whose husband is an infertility doctor.