Lili M-J: Let the Jewellery Speak for Itself. Period.

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Lili Murphy-Johnson is a London-based jewellery designer who entered the design scene in 2015 with her extraordinary graduate collection. As many Central Saint Martins’ students, Lili addresses social taboos and knows how to turn something painful into something beautiful. Read below about her period-inspired project and why she would like more men to wear her jewellery.

As an artist, Lili has always been fascinated by the proximity of jewellery to the body. It gives her a way to explore feelings and communicate experiences through something tangible. At the end of her three-years-long research, she introduced her project “On the Rag” capturing various stages of the woman’s cycle, from the emotional swings to the inevitable blood stains. Accompanied by a turbulent feedback, Lili has diverted her attention to other projects but would love to ‘come back to the female issues’.

" Pay gaps, patriarchy, ... there is still a long way to go for gender equality "

Lili is very open-minded and see(k)s inspiration everywhere. Then she translates her ideas into wearable objects. Her second collection “Phallic Amulets Against Misogyny” protects from ‘mansplaining and patronising remarks’. Lili can pride herself in re-interpreting the Japanese art and the belief that amulets can cure illnesses. Without satirising the Japanese culture, Lili created genitalia-inspired amulets which, when worn on your chest, have the power to fight patriarchy and give the wearer the strength and confidence to tackle gender inequality.

Lili’s amazing work has been covered by the press, from The Telegraph to Cosmopolitan, who all talk positively about her graduate collection. Sadly, these articles were followed by multiple negative comments from both men and women. But Lili is positive, ensuring us that ‘nobody has ever said anything [negative] to [her] face’. Still, in the 21st century, should we be afraid to speak out about periods and pay gaps?

Here at Vagina-nomics, we experience the menstruation cycle regularly, twice a month to be precise, and have already established a set of guidelines of what (not) to do when one is showing signs of PMS. Lili's jewellery collections bring attention to taboo topics that affect everyone, either directly or through their partner, and hopefully inspires others to speak out. Beautiful objects contribute to enlightenment. But although over the past few years there has been an enormous improvement in the people’s perception, change is coming at a very slow pace.

Lili's jewellery collections give her the power to bring attention to taboo topics that affect everyone

Taboo is directly connected to rejection. Lili has experienced this with which closed her store for ‘inappropriate content’. Similarly, Vagina-Nomics faced difficulties during its launch when the brand’s name got rejected by both the UK Government and Facebook. Naming is a tricky issue, and although Lili was discouraged from reopening her store on the online platform while we had to settle for V-Nomics as the official name instead, the cause remains the same: to support and encourage women to speak out and to make everyone feel comfortable rather than embarrassed speaking about sex, menstruation and inequality.

Although Lili’s work covers issues frequently faced by women, this does not mean her jewellery is targeted only at them. Quite the contrary, Lili would love to see more men sporting her pieces as she believes they have the power to transform the wearer’s behaviour. Picturing a man with a penis hanging on his neck might seem unrealistic but: first, it is hardly recognisable from far; second, it changes the mentality and thus avoids him looking chauvinistic; third, the fact that a man would wear this amulet shows his support (not ridicule) of the gender equality. Men, please, start accessorising yourself with gold and silver amulets, women will appreciate it.

Vagina-Nomics's missing is to celebrate artists who's work contributed to the normalisation of taboos, from sex to women's health. Lili Murphy-Johnson shows how to convert pain into beauty and wear something many still feel ashamed of saying out loud - be it menstruation, penises or even sex! There still is a long way to go before everyone feels comfortable leaving the house accessorised with a beaded (or a real) blood stain or a golden penis. But, unless we start taking actions now, nothing will ever change! Wearing a statement around your neck is a great way to start. We love jewellery, let's learn how to love being a woman, too, with all the 'negative' it brings. Period.