Alexis Bittar (b. 1968) has been called the “greatest jewelry designer of the 21st Century,” He began his jewelry designing career by selling his creations on the South Houston (Soho) streets in New York City. He became famous for the bold use of Lucite in his creations.
When he was 10 years old, he embarked on his first business venture – selling flowers across the street from his childhood home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bittar, the son of educators who collected antiques, said of the experience, “[My parents] wanted my brother and me to learn the value of hard work mixed with creativity at a young age.”
As a teen, Alexis attended the Bronx School of Science, but began cutting classes to immerse himself in the NY club scene. “It was this exciting mix of underground fashion, music and pure exhibitionism and I wanted to be a part of it all,” he recalled.
Despite his questionable attendance, he managed to graduate and then enrolled at the State University of Albany. However, his taste for the club scene led him to drop out during his second semester. He returned to New York City where he experimented with drugs and alcohol.
By 1988, he’d sobered up and started to design his own line of costume jewelry using Lucite as his primary material. He also began work on a second line, which incorporated semi-precious stones and metals. Around 1991, he’d set up shop on the corners of Soho.
In 1992, he was discovered by Dawn Meslo, Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director. She offered him an introduction into the world of retail. Soon, he developed a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue. It was not long before he entered international markets with hid creations sold at Harrod’s in the UK and Isetan in Japan.
In 1996, Bittar expanded his creative vision by designing homewares for Barney’s New York and Takashimaya and also a collection of Lucite and steel furnishings for the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. From then on there, his accolades stacked up. He designed Burberry’s first ready to wear collection, translating their signature plaid into Lucite. He collaborated with costume designer, Patricia Field on the HBO series, “Sex In The City”, and collaborated with Michael Kors, Dennis Baso, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, and Michael Angel.
Finally, in 2004, he opened his first of nine boutiques in New York City, just two blocks away from where he’d sold his first designs. His website states that it sells “jewelry that moves with you.” Each piece is created with care with the intention of making it a collectible item. Pieces are also intended to remain relatable, while maintaining a luxurious feel.
In 2015, Alexis sold his company to Brooks Brothers in order to concentrate on philanthropy.