A Moment With…Alexis Bittar

by Eddie Roche

With over twenty-years of history behind his eponymous line, products in more than 34 countries around the globe and accolades like “One of the Greatest Jewelry Designers of the 21st Century,” it’s hard to imagine that Alexis Bittar still takes the time to fête anniversaries at his retail stores. Nevertheless, he recently marked a special one-year observance for his fourth New York City boutique in the Upper West Side, and you better believe he was there to celebrate. We mingled amidst Cheeto-flavored macaroons (surprisingly delightful!) and toasts of Prosecco in the filled-to-capacity Columbus Avenue outpost while Bittar caught up with decades-long followers as if they were old friends. “I’ve known your work for 20 years! Have you lost weight?” One especially polished guest questioned. Bittar good-humoredly affirms it’s true as she continues to compliment his designs as well as his, well, assets! When it was our turn with the guest of honor, we continued the love-fest for his jewelry, one particular stunning feathered ear cuff in particular, spotted in a scenic W magazine editorial this January. Bittar regaled The Daily with tidbits about the brand’s origin, his personal practices in bling, and the adventures he has planned for summer. Hint: It’s a jungle out there!

We’re here to celebrate the one-year anniversary of your Upper West Side store! Were you excited to come and mingle with your fans?
When I was walking across the street—because I always do this thing where I check out the crowd— my instant reaction was to get in it! For me, it’s such a gift to be surrounded by people who love your work; you can’t ask for anything more than that. It constantly keeps me in touch with who is buying my product. It’s critical actually!

Speaking of loving your work; we are obsessed with your black feather ear cuff. Tell us about the animalistic aesthetic.
Well, I design four collections so it’s a super wide aesthetic, including the fine jewelry line that’s all 18 karat, sterling silver, and diamonds, along with a fashion collection. Those we did for Rihanna, actually. I like to be able to showcase it and have it in-store. Each season we like to bring in more and more editorial pieces.

Your stores are so editorial already—your team has such a great sense of personal style about them.
Cute, right? I really want them to do that. I want them to be comfortable to be individuals. It’s such an important part.

What about your personal accessory aesthetic? Ever design anything for yourself?
I wear one piece of jewelry, but I didn’t design it.

What is it?
It’s an antique necklace by Pablo Picasso that I picked up at the Armory show.

What a special find! Are you looking forward to summer?
Of course, are you kidding?

What’s on the docket for this summer?
I’m going to Tanzania.

That explains those animal instincts!
I love Africa! I’ve been to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Sudan. I love going to Africa because to me it’s one of those places where there’s no commercialism and is ethnically diverse in the truest sense. I love just seeing that and nature. I’ll be in Dar es Salaam and travel in the towns as well as on safari. It’s the great migration; it’s in July!

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