CFDA Showcase: Rony Vardi and Leigh Batnick Plessner of Catbird

Full disclosure: Randi lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for three years, about 5 blocks from Catbird. Randi, as you know, really likes jewelry. So you can imagine that there was some serious time spent in the little jewel box of a shop on Bedford Avenue and that baubles, certainly, were purchased. Our point is that the ladies of Catbird have good taste and we already knew we wanted all the things waaaay before this profile came into being. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get down to gems and metals. While the store itself stocks a stellar selection of unique designers (including Polly Wales, Wwake and Jennie Kwon), the in-house Catbird brand is chock full of all the little things that ladies want: studs, stacking rings and personalized pieces that also make fabulous gifts. But these days, co-creative directors Rony (below, left, who is also Catbird's founder) and Leigh can't keep their subtle-and-sweet engagement rings in stock, evidenced by the wedding annex they opened for brides who are looking for something fancy without being flashy. While we usually fall into the "bigger is better" category of jewelry, we must admit that these ladies have nailed a modern/delicate balance that is impossible to resist. 

Community! It’s thrilling to have the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded people.

What's your idea of ultimate luxury? 

Rony: Being able to relax - mentally and physically.
Leigh: Peace of mind.

The gemstone you are currently lusting after is… 

Rony: Diamonds. Always. 
Leigh: Diamonds, the tinier the better.

If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? 

Rony: Tom Waits, to chat about his past and his future. 
Leigh: Joseph Cornell so we could rifle through his ballerina dossiers.


If you could buy any piece of contemporary jewelry from another CFDA member, what would it be? 

Rony: I love Eva Fehren’s X rings.
Leigh: Grapes of Wrath earrings by Erickson Beamon.

Where's the last place you visited that inspired your creativity? Give us some details! 

Rony: Big Sur! The sky-high trees, the locals hanging out at the Henry Miller library, the dolphins playing in the water, the waterfalls, the water stretching from dark grey to turquoise…The vibes alone are so inspiring.
Leigh: The Naples of Elena Ferrante, littered throughout with gold gleaming in the madness and frenzy.

If you could sit front row at any fashion show, what would it be and why? 

Rony: Miu Miu - it’s so beautifully confusing to me.
Leigh: Rodarte, for their smarts.

If you could be anything other than a jewelry designer, what would it be? 

Rony: A gardener.
Leigh: A writer, or, a reader.

Be honest – who is your celebrity crush? 

Rony: Jon Stewart. sigh.
Leigh: Liv Tyler and Marcel the Shell.

What's your spirit animal and explain why.  

Rony: A raccoon. Stripes + smudgy eye makeup.
Leigh: A lamb with a black velvet ribbon around it’s neck. Dark and light.

What does it mean to you to be a member of CFDA? 

Rony: Community! It’s thrilling to have the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded people.
Leigh: Excitement! It’s only just begun - we are new members!