If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise! The shining, shimmering menagerie of animals that makes up jewellery designer Marc Alary’s collections will stop you in your tracks. French born, New York-based Marc Alary studied in Paris and moved to the USA in 2003 where he worked for DKNY and Louis Vuitton. He then started to work on the accessories collections for Marc Jacobs in 2005 and ended up creating the jewellery lines for the catwalk collections before deciding to set up his eponymous jewellery brand in 2009.
Making the leap to going it alone, he left Marc Jacobs in 2011 and has continued to wow the deluxe jewellery scene ever since. Elephants, panthers and zebras are all present in the collection along with flamingos rendered in gold platinum and diamonds, sapphires, rubies and tourmalines, all in addition to articulated monkeys cheekily clutching rubies with tails and hands.
In February 2014 Alary was one of the designers chosen to be part of the CFDA’s “Americans in Paris” initiative, which was created as a global showcase for emerging American designers to show their collections during Paris Fashion Week. The showroom attracted a wide array of international retailers, providing invaluable global exposure for the designers as well as the sales, marketing and media support necessary to expand their respective businesses.
I caught up with the designer to get his philosophy on his design process and what his inspirations are:
DW: Do you have a guiding philosophy towards doing your work?
MA: I always say I want to design honest pieces/products, meaning, I spend a lot of time designing and crafting my pieces. Actually before I design or produce any of piece for my brand, I always question the validity of its design, is it pertinent enough, is it strong enough to be developed, or will I still want that piece in 10 or 20 years or even more? I even question if I design a piece where will it be in 50 or 100 years.
DW: Has this evolved over time?
MA: I believe everything changes or evolve, but I really try to stay true to myself when it comes to designing for my brand, it is very important for me. I wouldn’t want for my customer to feel cheated.
DW: Who has been your biggest influence in terms of your work?
MA: Many people/artists have influenced my work over the years and I think my taste has been evolving over the years. But there are a few artists that I deeply admire and always go back to. Calder, Giacometti, Matisse, Lalique, and the old work of Faberge. But other mediums also influence my work a lot, like literature or music and I really love Beethoven. His music as well as the character himself, I fully admire the determination he had.
DW: Do you have any advice for other designers building a jewellery brand?
MA: Patience and dedication are key to build a jewelry brand, and you will need plenty of both that is for sure!
DW: Do you think there has been a seismic shift in how diamonds are selling in the past 5 years?
MA: What I have been seeing since I started my brand is that when it comes to stones people are using more and more diamonds and less and less of colour stones (semi precious stones) which is very sad. First as I think it becomes a bit boring because setting coloured stones is very different than setting diamonds and now it has became increasingly difficult to find good setters for coloured stones.
DW: Name any other jewellery designers that you admire.
MA: There are a lot of great designers out there and I admire a lot of them and sometimes for a very different reasons, but I like brands with a real point of view, brands that are highly original. I love the work of Victoire de la Castellane, and Solange Azagury Partridge or the work of younger creators like my friends Jordan Askill, Irene Neuwirth, Ileana Makri and Yves Spinelli.
The Marc Alary collections are stocked by some of the coolest retailers on the planet, including Dover Street Market, Colette in Paris, The Webster in Miami and Jeffrey, New York and online with Farfetch. In addition to his high-end jewellery, Alary has collaborated with US retailer J Crew with a “kissing birds” range made of enamel and Swarovski crystal.