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From Skatepark to Spotlight: Marland Backus’s Journey from Modeling to Jewelry Design August 23, 2023 (0 comments)


Tokyo, Japan--Skateboarding in Brooklyn at age 12, Marland Backus caught the eye of scouts. Fast forward a few years, and she found herself posing for Celine billboards and appearing in Gucci shows amidst juggling classes.

[Image via @marlandbackus/Instagram]

An interview with Vogue reveals that Backus, a Pratt Institute design graduate, always had an affinity for crafting. Initially considering furniture design, she discovered jewelry creation offered flexibility during her busy modeling schedule. What began as personal pieces for friends swiftly transitioned to commercial engagements with prominent brands.

The interview noted that as modeling gigs dwindled during the pandemic, Backus found her jewelry passion taking center stage in Tokyo. There, her designer identity eclipsed her modeling fame. Locals recognized her more for her unique designs than her billboards.

Backus recalls missing university classes for high-end fashion shows and almost missing her graduation due to a Celine campaign. Yet, her most recognized work includes a Celine campaign that graced billboards and a wig-clad appearance in a Gucci campaign.

The interview stated that by dabbling with non-traditional materials like concrete in college, Backus found her true calling: crafting jewelry. Her designs gained traction in local Brooklyn boutiques, snowballing from backstage hobby to onstage moments like Olivia Rodrigo sporting her necklace during a concert.

This jewelry journey led Backus to major retailers like SSENSE, transforming her one-woman show into a full-scale operation. Despite challenges like tendonitis, her commitment remains unwavering.

Modeling undeniably opened doors for her. Her rapport with brands like Opening Ceremony gave her a leg up when transitioning to design. Even an offhand comment about studying design during a Celine shoot led to a summer internship with the brand.

The interview highlighted that Backus takes pride in her boundary-pushing designs, like the "Hairy Fairy pearl necklace" that stirs intrigue and discomfort. Her modeling exposure to luxurious, high-end fashion pieces influences her design aesthetics. Witnessing the behind-the-scenes creative processes of renowned brands, she says, has been enlightening.

Learn more in the entire Vogue interview.

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