By Safia Khalid
Talk about destiny. One week after I excitedly noticed Shy wearing a gorgeous Alexis Bittar necklace (and she was equally excited that I recognized his craftsmanship), I found myself face-to-face with the creative genius himself. On a weekend trip to Chicago, I ventured out to Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue in search of a hat, and wound up at massive trunk show of Bittar’s (thank you, Serendipity). As a fan of his work, I’ve never been able to pass up a display case or a chance to check out his pieces online whenever I go shopping, and let me tell you, this trunk show was amazing. The first table I approached was loaded with his signature bangles and these gorgeous serpent pins (I love snake themed jewelry — and he does them damn well).
I was so wrapped up in that display that it took me a minute to notice the crowd of people bustling in front of me. They were circling showcases that were covered and filled with necklaces, earrings, pins, rings and even those much sought-after (and typically elusive) editorial pieces. I managed to get my hands on a pair of stunning (wait, let me emphasize…stunning) earrings. And, as always, I wound up with an internal struggle debating the cost of beauty and my increasing need to own these earrings.
As I stood there deliberating with myself among the dazzling pieces of jewelry (and women clamoring to buy them), I noticed a man casually chatting with customers. Needless to say, I had a moment when I realized it was the Alexis Bittar. After gaining my composure, I approached him – I mean, really, how many times do you get to run into one of your favorite designers?
Not only was Bittar one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, he was completely relaxed and genuinely interested in what his many fans had to say. What’s more, he didn’t appear the least bit bothered when I went back to talk to him two more times and he was totally game for my questions.
He told me his other favorite jewelry collections right now are Christian Dior’s and JAR. Among his favorite place for inspiration in New York are The Met and the Neue Galerie (particularly the works of the Wiener Werkstätte which really inspired his line). Of course, I had to ask him about his favorite place to eat in the city, and I think at this point I started to get a little nervous because I could have sworn he said Morrino’s (relying all too heavily in Google’s abilities to confirm). What I did find though was Bittar was already a step ahead of me and listed his favorite NYC restaurants on his blog here.
Finally, when talking about designing a jewelry line he made two amazing points: (1) Always know what your vision is, where it’s going, and what exactly you hope to accomplish with your line; and (2) Be original. It’s still possible to be unique if you have a vision that’s truly yours.
There really is something stoicly cool about Bittar’s jewelry. Every piece somehow manages to look simultaneously raw and polished in one effortless breath. Just standing on their own, his pieces will completely charm you without even trying too hard. Of course, the craft is reflective of the artist. As a writer, I have to take a moment to admire his use of language in naming his pieces. The Swarovski crystals that adorn many of his lucite pieces are elegantly referred to as “dust,” and even more deliciously specified as of the “sugar” or “licorice” variety. The edgier necklaces from the Miss Havisham collection evoke a more gothic yet luxurious feel with “liquid gold” and “molten” pendants. As if the imagery he creates isn’t enough to pique your interest, take a look at some of his work. And if you haven’t seen anything from his Miss Havisham collection before, let me preface this by saying, You’re Welcome.
And those earrings? I now consider them a souvenir from my chance encounter…a nod to serendipity, if you will.
[Editor’s Note: Check Alexis Bittar’s blog – I was psyched to see a shot of the Nicki Minaj Cosmo issue that BATF is also featured in! I wonder what destiny has in store for us next…perhaps an Alexis Bittar/BATF collaboration?? Hey, we can dream.]