Nocturne Catherine

Founded by elusive French designer Claudine Bertinotti Lenoble, if you don’t already know about Nocturne, you should. Based in East London, this jewellery brand creates avant-garde pieces using an innovative mix of materials and traditional Asian techniques. The result? The kind of jewellery that you can’t wear without someone asking you where it’s from. Whether you let them into the secret is up to you… We caught up with the brand’s creative director, Catherine Howkins, to ask all the important questions and find out exactly what’s in her SUITCASE…

What do you always pack in your suitcase?

Tiger balm, I’m addicted to it and it clears your head on a long flight. It can also act as an emergency mosquito-bite cream, as well as helping hangover headaches. It cures everything!

Would you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl?

More morning these days as I have a two year old! My night owl years are behind me.

Which is your favourite piece from Nocturne’s AW16 collection?

I love all of the earrings, it’s so hard to choose. I’d probably say the Luna Pearl earrings; the stone is so unique, made from smoke bespoke resin. They really standout and complete your outfit, but are also super comfy.

You often travel to the South East Asia for research and inspiration. What are your most memorable experiences from there?

Shamian Island in Guangzhou is an island which has the only port that was allowed to trade with the west in the 19th century. The territory was part controlled by France and part by the UK; each created their own town for trade with Europe and China. The buildings are beautiful; colonial style with tree-lined walkways. It’s an unexpected treasure.

What is the most unusual thing you have eaten whilst on your travels?

A 100-year-old egg, not for the faint-hearted!

Have you ever solved a rubix cube?


If you could be a stone, which one would you be and why?

Marble, it’s beautiful and really stands the test of time. If you were a marble statue you could observe future civilisations in centuries to come.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

I don’t do singing – not in public, anyway.

Where will we find you on a Sunday afternoon?

On the beach collecting shells with my daughter.

The next travel destination on your bucket list?

I haven’t explored India that much. I love the food, Gujarati particularly, as well as their unbeatable natural resources for colours, the rich history of textiles and yoga.

What motto do you live by in your daily life?

I approach all relationships with honesty and compassion, both personally and professionally. Then there are no regrets.

What three things would you take to a desert island?

Tiger balm! Also lip balm and a sewing kit so I could make things and keep my mind functioning.

What are you most scared of?

Anything happening to my husband and daughter.

What is your most treasured piece of jewellery?

My wedding ring – a 1920s diamond band.

Where is your favourite place to visit in Asia which is off the beaten track?

Vietnam, Hoi Ann. There are lots of hidden places along the Mekong River.  We took a cycle tour with a local guide who took us to nearby villages to see how they make a living. We saw grasses being farmed, dyed and woven into rugs and a family of artisans crafting mother of pearl shell into intricate inlays on wooden furniture – an incredible craft.

Do you prefer a beach holiday or a snow holiday?

Beach holiday, I love that sand in your toes feeling, the way the sunshine on your face relaxes your shoulders from the usual daily stress.  Although I do love a mountain après ski, certainly more than the ski itself!

Name the cocktail that best describes yourself.

An old fashioned.

Where would you go in a time machine?

The Portuguese colonial town of Paraty in Brazil, close to Rio. I’d like to travel back to the 19th century to see the town in it’s full glory. While I was there I’d hop over to the nearby paradise white sandy beaches of Ilha Grande.

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