In 1990, Brooklyn-born artist Alexis Bittar started designing jewellery made from Lucite, a transparent thermoplastic with a glass-like look and feel. “The first piece of Lucite I made, it was magical,” he recalls. Today, boutiques like Holt Renfrew, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman carry his collections.
Bittar is well known among fashion insiders and in the pages of international fashion magazines, and industry authorities everywhere are falling for his work. Vogue creative director Grace Coddington recently coined an affectionate moniker for his gunmetal scaled cuff, from his Miss Havisham collection of art deco–inspired pieces. “She calls it the ‘cheese grater’,” says Bittar.
Every one of Bittar’s Lucite designs are meticulously hand sculpted and hand painted (finger painted, so as not to leave unwanted brushstrokes) to uphold his standard of perfection. “I’m designing as quickly as I’m thinking. But I am in every piece,” says Bittar, who works on his fast-growing empire with an eight-person creative team out of a Brooklyn studio. Definitive pieces include chunky Lucite bangles, vintage-inspired earrings, feminine floral brooches, and colourful pendants. And with a selection that spans from readily wearable to one-of-a-kind creations—the Spring 2010 Miss Havisham collection includes a futuristic rhodium helmet—his jewellery offers a wealth of selection to any generation.
Bittar’s current collections feature pieces influenced by turn-of-the-century metalwork and strong geometric lines—“a hodgepodge of eras” is how he describes it. Maybe so, but it’s also the next generation of chic costume jewellery.