Making Statements


Instantly recognizable by her close-cropped silver hair, vintage round eyeglasses, and stylish black apparel by designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Gillion Carrara cuts an undeniably sharp profile. The curated look speaks to both her minimalist aesthetic and a desire to be taken seriously. Not to mention the way it showcases her jewelry, which she makes in her Chicago studio using a mix of metal and natural materials such as horn, shell, ebony, and hard wood sourced from across the globe.

“I want people to wear them, love them, and tell stories about them,” she says. “Look at what Gillion did to this palm seed. Or, Gillion found Chinese game spheres that she cut apart and used in a bracelet. There’s always a story.”

An adjunct professor in art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Carrara is also a lifelong student. She attended Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia before moving to Italy, where she lived for six years, taking classes at l’Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and working in a textile design studio in Milan. After returning to Chicago and marrying her (now late) husband, Alfonso, in the 1980s, they continued to summer in a village outside of Siena.

This story appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of MILIEU. To read the complete story or to see all photos, visit the MILIEU Newsstand to purchase this issue in print or visit to purchase this issue in digital format.