I can think of no better time than Mother's Day weekend to discuss jewelry. Fashion jewelry design is in the midst of a renaissance the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1980s. And Alexis Bittar blazed the trail.
In the past two decades, the New York-based jewelry designer has gone from selling his signature colorful, hand-carved Lucite pieces on the streets of SoHo to bejeweling leading ladies in Hollywood and beyond, including First Lady Michelle Obama (pictured below wearing one of his pins to the State of the Union address in January), Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Meryl Streep and Rihanna. At the same time, he's managed to keep the core of his collection in an accessible $225 to $645 price range.
Bittar has also challenged the definition of fashion muse by eschewing prepubescent models in his ad campaigns in favor of real women, such as eccentric octogenarian Iris Apfel, "Dynasty" diva Joan Collins and, most recently, "Ab Fab" couple Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.
In a story for Sunday's Image section, I caught up with Bittar to talk about how the jewelry business has changed over the years and what he's planning for his own brand, now that he has a new business partner in private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners.
-- Booth Moore
Photos, from top: Alexis Bittar and pieces from his spring 2012 collection from the designer.
First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address on Jan. 24. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.