Boh Runga's “Weapons of Mass Devotion”

The launch was held at the NZ Mint headquarters in the Auckland CBD, and upon arrival, myself and a group of media were ushered into the vault – a room filled entirely with safes made with steel, some of which we were told contained gold bars! Very James Bond.

When I viewed the collection, the first thing I noticed is that this collection, Boh’s sixth with NZ Mint, is a definite departure from Boh’s previous collections. Boh said that the first thing she does when designing a new collection is to think of the name first, and to develop a theme and background story from that: “I like to think of stories for each of my collections, basing my designs on a fable or a legend to bring each individual piece special life and meaning,” she says. “This new range is all about Cupid’s weapons of love.”

Named ‘Weapons of Mass Devotion’, the beautiful range of Stirling silver jewellery takes inspiration from ‘Cupid’s arsenal’. Cupid’s trademark Devotion Bow and Arrow feature in a number of the pieces, including Boh’s first foray into men’s jewellery, the ‘Devotion Ring’. A favourite of mine was the matching men and women’s ‘devotion’ rings. The men’s ring has ‘devotion’ in large text alongside Cupid’s arrow. The women’s version bears the same features but within the powerful word, a signature cut-out heart is used in place of the ‘O’.

The motif is echoed throughout the collection. In Boh’s imaginings, Cupid has added to his armoury a ‘mother of pearl-handled pistol’ that never runs out of ammunition – unique heart-shaped bullets.
The pistol and bullet are key pieces in the new collection and shine in the ‘Shot through the Heart’ necklace. Along with the heart, the pistol and bullet are also available as individual charms, something new for Boh Runga jewellery. There is also a ‘Shot through the Heart Bow and Arrow’ variation – a tribute to Cupid’s tried and true weapons. Lastly, devotion comes in the form of an endless circle necklace and matching I.D. bracelet, all designed to be layered with the other pieces.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Boh to talk about the inspirations behind her new collection, and to chat about (what else) fashion.

Can you tell us a little about your new collection with NZ Mint, Weapons of Mass Devotion?
I wanted to do a collection that incorporated hearts, but I wanted to do that without being terrible girly. I love that kind of thing, but it doesn’t necessarily suit me, so I thought why not throw a few guns in there, and Cupid’s bow and arrow! The collection is about the fact that Cupid is responsible for getting people together, that’s how it all came about. And I love the word devotion, it’s a beautiful word, and it means so many things.

What is your favourite piece from the new collection?
My favourite piece is the necklace with the heart and the bow and arrow, because to actually make the bow and arrow sit on somebody and make it strong enough to be a wearable piece required quite a bit of thought. You can draw one thing, but to make it work as a piece of jewellery is different. And the men’s ring, because I haven’t done a men’s ring yet.

What do you enjoy most about designing jewellery?
The fact that I get to wear it! The fact that I know what to give my friends for their birthdays – gift vouchers only get you so far! They are totally selfish reasons. The fact that I put pieces in my jewellery collection that I would love to wear, and that I know my friends will like. You can only hope that people will like it too, and it’s worked very well so far.

What inspires you?
People inspire me, my friends inspire me, and beautiful places inspire me. Jewellery-wise, I collection jewellery, I love vintage jewellery. Music also inspires me. I’ve got really great friends and people around me, and I take their opinions on board.

Describe your personal style.
Pretty relaxed most of the time, I’m a tomboy at heart. I think that comes from playing in a band for a long time. The practicalities of being a woman in a touring situation, you become a bit of a tomboy. I’ve always been like that though – my father was in the army, so we had sort of a militant upbringing. My style is ‘dodgy’ – I love fashion, but a lot of it isn’t for me. I’m not necessarily current, but I know what I like, and I can appreciate fashion on other people more. I’m usually in a t-shirt and jeans and heels – that’s my default setting.

You were at New Zealand Fashion Week last week – what was your favourite show?
I loved Juliette Hogan, because she has such a wonderful, feminine style, which isn’t necessarily me, but when I do dress in a dress, I wear Juliette Hogan dresses. I also really liked Adrian Hailwood – the colours were totally up my alley, and I loved the styling.

Who is your favourite NZ designer?
That’s really hard, because there are different things I like from different designers, and I’m not sure there’s one designer who encompasses all those things that I like. Because I have mismatched tastes. I’m loving Kate Sylvester’s little leather bustier – I like Kate Sylvester; I think she does beautiful dresses. I like Zambesi’s coats, and the strength in their designs. Juliette Hogan for the prettiness, she makes me feel really feminine. I love Kathryn Wilson’s shoes, and I love her! She’s genuinely fricken nice! And Jaime Webster of Jaime Boutique, I like her clothes because they suit me, her clothes are really interesting.

What has been your biggest fashion faux pas?
The 90s – that was just bad. 1991 until…probably about four years ago! That whole period of my life I had some bad outfits! I used to be in a band called Stellar, and we’ve recently released a best of, and we did a montage of our photo shoots and behind the scenes shots, and I looked tragic! You have to think about the fact that I didn’t really care and didn’t have a desire to be fashionable, and now I look at it and I’d be mortified if one of my friends dressed like that! But it’s kind of fun looking at the photos, because I look really happy. And I’m still happy now, but I’m just better dressed!

The Weapons of Mass Devotion range comprises eight beautiful pieces. Boh Runga’s jewellery collection is available at more than 67 retailers across the country and online at www.nzmintjewellery.com now.

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By Natalie Cosgrove

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