Last Friday I was lucky enough to visit the studio of newly crowned CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year Alexis Bittar.
The giant, sunny space in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood is equipped with two production rooms, offices for sales, shipping and PR, and an office filled with more gorgeous jewelry than you could ever imagine. Why so much space, you may wonder? Because every piece of jewelry is made on site, by hand. That's right: Everything is handmade. Every clasp, hook, pendant, bracelet, and earring is handmade by artisans employed by Alexis Bittar in Brooklyn; nothing is purchased except the raw materials.
I watched artisans shape Lucite, Alexis' signature material, into bracelets using some crazy machinery I didn't think existed outside of How It's Made. I even caught Alexis using the machines like a pro (he did invent the technology himself back in the '90s). Each piece of jewelry is handled by a myriad of artisans, each adding a special detail like the ribbing on the lucite, Swarovski rhinestones, or shaping the metal.
After being awed by the incredible production of each item, I was shown the stock room, which doubles as a PR office. All I could think was: "If this were my office, I'd get no work done at all!" Three of the walls were dripping with jewelry from the designers three lines: Miss Havisham, Lucite, and Elements, as well as custom pieces for "Grace, Marie-Amelie, and Carine." There were some giant, geometric cuffs, silver bows, a metal helmet, and a pair of Michael Jackson inspired knee pads currently in the hands, or on the knees, of Lady Gaga.
At the time of my visit, Alexis was planning for the CFDAs, which he attended with the glamorous Iris Apfel, who is a huge Alexis Bittar fan. By the end of the visit, my love for Alexis, his staff, their designs, and the gold pyramid earrings I was allowed to keep--and haven't taken off since--was sky high. I'm planning on loading up my summer wardrobe with Alexis Bittar pieces, which miraculously retail from $70-$700.
Watch the video to hear Alexis talk about the history of his brand and show off some of his favorite pieces.