Alexis Bittar Tells Us About His Beloved Gilded Parrot

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A stormy Friday afternoon didn’t stop Alexis Bittar fans from coming out to meet the jewelry designer at Bal Harbour’s Neiman Marcus. Dozens of women turned up to buy baubles from his three collections (Lucite, Elements, and Miss Havisham, if you are keeping track). When the ladies weren’t gushing over his pieces, plenty of gals were patiently waiting to get their picture snapped —complete with an autograph — with the accessories bigwig. Aside from the oohs and aahs an Alexis Bittar piece usually inspires, passerbys gushed about how dreamy the designer looked, no matter if they were grandmothers or pretty young things enamored with his gems.
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We caught up with the friendly Brooklyn native in between him chatting with attendees and doing TV interviews to find out about the Miami store he plans to open (maybe in the Design District, he hints), why he loves looking for vintage, and just who are the most stylish ladies in the USA. (Um, Miamians, of course!)
Why did you decide to come to Miami to show your collection at Neiman Marcus?
"Other than the chance to get away and hide on the beach, I love Neiman Marcus and wanted to support the store and show my collection here."
What inspired each of the three collections you are showing today?
"I designed three totally separate collections (Lucite, Elements, and Miss Havisham), which all currently possess a southwestern and baroque fusion. I also did a punk floral collection, which has a little bit of '80s, rock-and-roll in it."
How is your Miami client different?
"The Miami client lives for the night. She is not afraid of accessorizing and wearing color. I think they are a little more lavish than the usual jewelry wearer."
You’re a fan of vintage. Have you been able to shop in Miami for it? What draws you to it?
"I haven’t had a chance yet. It would be exciting because vintage shopping is legendary here. I started selling antique jewelry when I was 13-years-old and I still continue buying and selling it. What draws me to vintage again and again is the history — particularly the 1800s, up to 1940."
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In regards to age, who is your main clientele?
"Oh, it's across the board. We have our put-together French Vogue girls and our Lady Gagas who are younger and completely fashion aware, brand-obsessed, and into art. Then we have a mature women like Michelle Obama and Madeleine Albright, or my good friend Iris Apfel, who is 92-years-old."
Do you currently have a favorite piece?
"I have a few, like the Gold Parrot Cuff from the Elements collection. I just like how baroque and over-the-top it feels. I’ve never seen anything like it."
Currently, what are you working on?
"I’m working on my spring collection now, so it can be ready in September. Can you believe that I design 400 pieces a season?"
Alexis, what's going on in the future for you?
"I’m going to be launching a line of fine jewelry next year and some retail expansion. We already have seven stores, but I want to open up six more in the next two years. I’m looking for a location in Miami. Maybe the Design District?"
Um, yes please.
Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Bittar
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