Udi Behr Puts the “Neck” Into Necklace With ‘True Blood’ Inspired Jewelry
Of all supernatural beasts, vampires probably require the least accessorizing. They have the luminous skin of a Ukrainian supermodel, retractable fangs (ready-made accessories), and, more often than not, dribbles of ruby-red blood spotting their chins. But if the cast of True Blood were to embellish their nocturnal good-looks, they’d surely summon designer Udi Behr, whose collection for the HBO sensation features vampire-friendly, stainless-steel braided necklaces, filigree sterling-silver rings for the Sookies of the world, and Medieval-looking, leather-and-chainmail gear (Godric family heirlooms?) ready for a night at Fangtasia—all inspired by the undead. Behr called us from Las Vegas (“I hate it here! Hate it!”) to talk jewelry, Season Three spoilers, and the drawbacks of being allergic to the sun.
Are you a fan of the show? I’m a huge fan of True Blood!
What about the show do you like so much? I love Alan Ball. His work has always intrigued me. I think he’s an amazing director, and Six Feet Under was the best show ever. I think he’s taking the idea of vampires to a different dimension: there’s the visual, sexy vampire side of it, but there’s also activism, vampire rights, equal rights. It’s a dimension that’s talked about in the show, you know, debating vampires in human society. It’s different from anything I have seen, and there’s also a very good-looking cast. That doesn’t hurt!
I know your first collection was called “Love, Peace, and Hope,” and you created it, after 9/11, to bring peace and beauty into the world. How do you square that with this rather violent show about vampires? Not everything I do is about activism, but activism is a very big part of my life. I did lots of support for 9/11, for gay marriage…I mean, it’s part of my life. It’s not something that I’ll stop doing. But True Blood has a dimension that I like. I would like to tell you that’s the main reason, but it’s just a great show. It’s such a wonderful show. How can you walk away from it?
When did you launch the collection? Actually, we launched it at the Emmys in Los Angeles in September, which was after the second season, so this is really the third season for me and for True Blood. It’s exciting. It’s familiar now.
Anything you can tell us about Season Three? You know, there’s a lot of secrecy around True Blood. The only thing I’ve heard is that’s it’s gonna be really, really edgy and it’s gonna be far crazier than any season before. There’s going to be a lot of blood. That’s the only thing I know.
Who would you most like to wear your pieces on the show? Do you have a favorite character? I don’t know if I could pick one character. I mean, I like all the characters. I like Tara very much. I like Sookie and Bill and Eric. There are some new characters coming this season that we’re all going to like, and last season Maryann I loved, and Eggs was great. It’s very dangerous to fall in love with a character on True Blood, because…
Because they’re gonna die? They’re gonna die! Or they’ll never die! But I’ll tell you that I want to be a vampire. I really figured out that this is really—I mean, what a wonderful way to live your life! Or death! What a wonderful way to live your death!
So you’d be happy only going out at night? I mean, I’ve thought about it. I’d be happy to go out at night, to live forever and see many things happen. I would live to see the cleaning up of the gulf. The only problem is that I’m a big beach bum, so I’d have to leave that behind. But come on, you are a vampire. You’re up all night, you don’t need to eat, you don’t need to drink, and you sleep all day, you know?
And you get to hang around with Alexander Skarsgaard! But I’ll have to think about that. Talk to me a little bit about the designs. When I design anything, I try to use an iconic symbol. When I thought about True Blood I thought about lemniscates—the sideways eight, the infinity symbol—because they go on forever. I used fangs for the closures to symbolize the vampires and I used rubies to symbolize the blood. I also try to use the materials that vampires could wear. And in some cases, materials for people that don’t want vampires to be next to them because they’re scary. Everything that you put on your body except for the rings are all made of steel, so vampires can wear them, because I don’t want to hurt any vampires, you know? Not with silver. The rings I did with silver, though, because it was very difficult to do them in any other material, but also, if you want to protect yourself from vampires, you have an opportunity.
So what’s next? Would you ever consider a Twilight-inspired series? What next! I mean, I won’t do any other vampire thing. I am a True Blood loyalist. I want to develop more True Blood—there’s a lot more life to the show and there are a lot more ideas I want to bring to the table. Vampires, if you are out there, I am sorry if you don’t belong to True Blood…I’m loyal. I’m a one vampire-franchise fan. But I’m working on other projects. I’m working, actually, on a new project that has to do with the Hispanic community. It’s for Telemundo. For each project I try to go in a different direction and I try to not do too many of the same projects, but for this one I’m very loyal.
Have you met any of the cast members? Sure! I’ve met a lot of them, actually. I met Maryann, I met Eggs. They’re real people! Real people with real feelings, you know? And they work very hard.
Where can fans buy your jewelry? Online. It’s in stores, I think it’s Fred Segal that carries it in LA, but I’m one of the first jewelry designers who really went from stores to online in everything I do, and I want it to be accessible to everyone.
Well, is there anything you wanted to add about the jewelry line or about the show? My jewelry line speaks for itself. I hope my jewelry—I do believe, honestly, but I am not to judge!—that I am trying to create jewelry that will stand by itself, that will be inspired by True Blood but is not necessarily only worn on True Blood fans. I enjoy what I do and it works, you know?