We caught up with Alexis Bittar at his Neiman Marcus trunk show recently. He's super dreamy, as you can tell from his photo (center). And so friendly, it was comfortable, like we'd met before. Read what he had to say about his biggest fans — Fab fave Cameron Diaz and the Gossip Girl stylists — as well as how he got his start.
What sparked your interest in jewelry?
I sold antique jewelry on the street [at the 26th Street flea market in Manhattan] for 15 years. I started working with Lucite, I just pounded it, started carving it. I actually don’t know how I put it all together in my brain, but I liked that you could sculpt it. It’s pretty cheap — in the beginning I had no money. It seemed like an experimental medium. And I like working with mediums that aren’t typical. When I first saw it, I loved it and I still love it. Guys like it, too; they’re into the science of it, they’re trying to figure it out. It took a long time — the beginning was a bit difficult, then certain key people used it, and it slowly took off. When the millennium happened there was thing of perceiving everything differently and it became the new.
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Would you ever delve into other accessories?
Previously, I designed furniture and I homewares. I’m a little ADD, so it's good for me to be focused. The next is fine jewelry. But the business has been growing so quickly, it’s harder to get to it. It was supposed to start and be done for 2010. It would be easy to do eye glasses, but I’m really brand-conscious. I’m trying to make sure the brand continues to get elevated and has a really distinct feel. That’s important to me before I do anything else.
We've noticed a lot of your jewelry on Gossip Girl.
It’s great. I don’t really know because I never watch it — I don’t have a TV — but it’s really good to hear about it. And I know the stylists, they’re super sweet. They said we were their most used accessory designer.
You work with a lot of stylists, right?
Exactly. Like Patti Wilson was doing a shoot for Italian Vogue with Rihanna. She was thinking of doing a 1920s fetish movie, like blond Venus. Patti is really funky and she said, I want spikes and crystals, but in a deco way. So the great thing about that is you end up going on tangents you might not normally think of, so you end up with a totally different concept.
And Cameron Diaz is a huge fan.
Cameron Diaz has been supportive for, I want to say, six or seven years. I’m always amazed because she can get whatever she wants. And even as she gets more mature, we’re like, where’s she going to go with this? And she’ll pull up and say, "I love this now." She’s been very, very supportive.