She studied at the Parsons, New School for Design in New York and specialized in the making of woven jewelry, the soul of her Lace + Armor lines. From there, she embarked on a stylistic road that has since seen her create a capsule collection for Donna Karan as well as collaborate with Christie’s for Green Auction, A Bid to Save the Earth. The last one was March 29th and her necklace made with irregular amethyst drops that were woven together with silk was put up for auction for an esteemed 250,000 dollars.
Her jewelry revolves around her culture, her passion for antique armor and corsets, and her hand-weaving, crocheting, and lace needlework traditions. The pieces also distinguish themselves as pieces that should be preserved. Shirley pairs metal and fabric weaves with uncut stones that have been left rough and in their natural state. They were chosen one by one so that each one is different from the next.
The work is unique in its own right and therefore gives her masterwork extraordinary appeal. One of her masterpieces is a 200 carat amethyst necklace. The stones are set with silk lace that was previous treated with plant extracts to give it an “aged” effect; the necklace also reflects Shirley’s passion for antique armor.
Her celebrated armor corset in silk and lost wax cast brass was inspired by antique Nigerian corsets that had featured a ram. They were realized by master craftsmen between the 15th and 17th centuries for the ancient Nigerian monarch. As she herself has said, “Armor has always intrigued me. I have always been fascinated by their allure and their elegance…”