Photography by Liza Gates.
Alexis Bittar’s quaint Bleeker Street boutique was the perfect place for a Valentine-themed gathering. Last Thursday’s pink-frosted cupcakes and festive candy dishes complimented the store’s hand painted cheery blossom walls while romantic floral arrangements and free flowing champagne served to put guests in the mood. Despite the fete’s lovey-dovey atmosphere, the focus was not cupid’s arrows or amorous endeavors, but Bittar’s chicly unique designs.
Walking to the back of the store to retrieve my own mini glass of bubbly, the Miss Havisham collection immediately stole my attention. Inspired by the designer’s club-kid past and 80’s icon Grace Jones, Miss Havisham featured geometric metal cuffs, pendants and drop earrings that channeled an era of gargantuan bobbles and inflated hair. The sharply sculpted Feather Collar would have undoubtedly been Ms. Jones’ accessory of choice and the Lucite Iconic Bubble Cuff was a wonderful modern addition to the beautifully over-the-top retro collection.
On the other end of the spectrum was the organic Elements line. Designed while dreaming of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the jewelry combines precious stones with 18-karat vermeil, sterling silver and treasures found during Bittar’s travels for a look that’s refined, elegant and even a bit exotic. When asked to describe the collection’s influences, the designer simply replied, “Smoking a joint. On the beach. In the Seventies.” Forget Valentine’s Day, that’s true romanticism….
The final collection on display was the designer’s signature selection of Lucite. Blooming, luminescent flowers glowed in the front window and colorful, printed cuffs tempted from within the glass display case. Attracted to Lucite at the beginning of his successful career, Bittar is the first jewelry designer to work with the material and each piece is still skillfully hand-carved.
“You can sculpt it. It glows when it’s gilded and it’s wearable, not so precious,” said the designer of his favorite medium.
Stylist, Patty Wilson certainly approves of Bittar’s innovative designs as she enlisted him to create girly accents for last Saturday’s Barbie fashion show in Bryant Park. Crafting deco-esque pieces to accompany the designs of Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein, Bittar captured the essence of the Barbie spirit with his massive hoops, bangles, and flower pendants.
Alexis Bittar is a rare gem: his bold designs are like nothing else on the market and his vision is a breath of fresh air. His work is at once fun, funky and refined and we at Scallywag will be on the edge of our seats waiting to see what treasures next season will bring.