Jewelry designer Alexis Bittar is taking his cool-girl aesthetic to Oak Street on Chicago’s trendy shopping row.
The 2010 CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year opened his second store in the Windy City this morning, joining an exclusive cadre of designer jewelry labels already on the street—Buccellati, David Yurman, Pomellato, and Graff. His first Chicago outpost, in the Bucktown neighborhood, opened in 2011.
Inside the new Alexis Bittar Oak Street store in Chicago
“Oak Street is the shopping mecca of the Midwest,” says Bittar, who was raised in Brooklyn and was a bona fide New York club kid before breaking into jewelry by selling vintage baubles on St. Marks Place in Manhattan’s East Village. “I’m bringing my Brooklyn street cred to Oak Street. Opening another store in the Midwest gives me an excuse to get out there and sun myself by the lake.”
The interior of the 908-square-foot boutique is “1940s deco–meets–industrial,” and—like all of Bittar’s stores—was loosely based on Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which most overtly manifests itself in the stores’ custom-painted cherry blossom silk wallpaper. The boutique, which is Bittar’s 10th to date, will also feature a few taxidermied creatures as decor, including a big brown bear. “It’s a great adult Pee-Wee’s Playhouse—so get into it!” he says.
Alexis Bittar’s Olmeca Grand cuff in turquoise and rhodium
The shop will stock all of Bittar’s collections: Miss Havisham (an aesthetic fusion of Art Deco and punk rock), Lucite (made from hand-sculpted and hand-painted Lucite), Elements (semiprecious stones and metals), and pieces from his Editorial (read: edgy) and fine jewelry collections.
“What I love about having my own stores…is being able to house all of my collections and really show the breadth of each line,” says the designer. “Having my own stores allows me to take some risks, and I’m all about taking risks.”
The store’s pretty exterior