Stylin’Jennifer Bringle keeps up with the Triangle’s evolving fashion and trends

Stylin’: N.C. designer’s jewelry will go to the Oscars

CorrespondentFebruary 20, 2013 

This Sunday, as the stars strut down Hollywood’s most glamorous red carpet at the Oscars, North Carolina jewelry designer Ileana Rojas-Bennett will be in the middle of the action.

The Winterville-based designer of Maleku Jewelry ( was chosen to contribute to the official Oscar swag bags distributed to all the nominees. And even more exciting for Rojas-Bennett – she’ll get the chance to meet with all of the nominees before the ceremony.

“I feel excited, yet a little bit anxious, too,” she says.

“I already have celebrities wearing my jewelry, but usually I only speak to them by phone or by email. This will be the first time I’ve met so many face-to-face.”

Rojas-Bennett was selected after a stylist friend recommended her jewelry to the organizers of the event. Upon being chosen, she was asked to create 150 pieces for the swag bags, along with a video about her jewelry.

“I knew I needed something small, yet gorgeous, so I designed a pearl-and-druzy bracelet – something petite to minimize production time,” she says.

Rojas-Bennett’s jewelry is inspired by her native Costa Rica, and is created with sterling silver or gold and semi-precious stones.

“Coming from a country of rain forests and volcanoes, I’m fascinated with the colors and textures of nature,” she explains. “So I use rough and polished stones for the bold look, but glamorize them with the bling of gold or silver accents.”

While she’s excited to rub elbows with the stars, Rojas-Bennett really hopes the celebrity recipients of her jewelry take the time to watch her video and learn more about her dedication to the Maleku people of Costa Rica. She donates a percentage of her annual sales to help members of this indigenous group receive basic needs such as clean water and schools.

“I’m very happy and eager to participate,” she says. “And I really hope at least one of the celebrities may get interested in my project with the Maleku Indians in Costa Rica.”

Especially for the bride

Charlotte’s in Cameron Village will host a special event for brides this week from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The show will include several local vendors, such as jewelry maker Mollybeads, calligrapher Lynn Titchener and more; plus giveaways. Charlotte’s is at 2034 Cameron St., Raleigh, 919-821-9828,

Discover your style

Local stylist Mary Michele Little of One Chic Mama wants to help Triangle women learn to find their personal style and discover new ways to wear things already in their closets with her Discovery 101 workshops. Two separate sessions are offered Thursday, 10 a.m.-noon or 6-8 p.m., and the fee for each session is $297. To register, email

A boho moment

Designer Stephanie Von Watzdorf brings the latest looks from her label, Figue, to Vermillion for a trunk show Feb. 27-28. Figue’s boho chic pieces include colorful printed tunics, casual dresses and blouses, plus jewelry and accessories. Vermillion is at 4321 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue, Raleigh, 919-787-9780,

Give for a special night

Meredith College is once again accepting prom dress donations for teens who cannot afford to purchase a dress. Through March 22, new or gently used gowns from the past five years can be dropped off at 204 Martin Hall 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Dresses will be distributed March 23-24 at North Hills. The effort is an annual service project for the Meredith Fashion Association. For more information, email

A successful effort

Raleigh’s Blo Salon celebrates another successful Cut-a-Thon fundraiser this year, having raised more than $15,000 for Alliance Medical Ministry. The salon’s annual Cut-a-Thon offers haircuts for a $40 donation, with all proceeds benefiting a different local charity each year. Alliance Medical Ministry provides affordable health care to uninsured working people in Wake County.

The first lady’s dress

Inaugural fashion comes to the North Carolina Museum of History with the donation of first lady Ann McCrory’s gown from this year’s inauguration to the “Leading the State: North Carolina’s Governors” exhibition, on display through April 28. The dress, a floor-length leopard-print gown with sequin accents, was designed by St. John’s Couture by Marie Gray.

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