Throughout couture week in Paris in July, amid the packed schedule of lavish occasions and events, the jewellery designer Elie Prime hosted a notably intimate feast for 14 mates in his design studio on Rue St.-Honoré. His company included the fashionable mannequin and actress Marisa Berenson, who stated dinner at Mr. Prime’s was all the time certainly one of her favourite invites.
“The dinner was so fun, warm and joyful,” stated Ms. Berenson, who lingered till previous midnight. She has been near the designer since they met 15 years in the past at a good friend’s home in Tangier, Morocco. “The world today is such that what’s most precious is to surround yourself with quality people that you appreciate, and Elie surrounds himself with people he loves,” she stated.
Mr. Prime’s cozy dinners remind Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, the journalist and socialite, of an earlier period. “This is what I imagine dinners were like in the 1970s,” she stated, “when fashion wasn’t so commercial, and it was about a designer’s friends and entourage and whoever inspired them.” (Ms. von Thurn und Taxis didn’t come to the July dinner, however she usually attends Mr. Prime’s gatherings.)
Throughout a time when massive jewellery homes like Tiffany & Firm and Bulgari, each owned by the luxurious behemoth LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, are investing tens of millions in whisking purchasers to glamorous locations for grand occasions and are paying model ambassadors and celebrities to put on their jewellery, it may be laborious for smaller manufacturers to compete. Mr. Prime, nevertheless, has chosen a unique path.
His jewellery is offered primarily by way of his Paris salon and studio, the place he’s usually accessible to fulfill with guests. He additionally sometimes does pop-up promoting occasions in Gstaad, Switzerland and New York — a trunk present was scheduled Nov. 13-26 at Bergdorf Goodman — and, for the primary time, he exhibited on the PAD London artwork truthful in October. The assist of his mates, who put on his designs, has additionally given the designer visibility.
“Many women who wear his jewelry are also his friends,” Ms. von Thurn und Taxis stated. “We buy his jewelry because we love it.”
The Affect of Mates
The designer’s trendy confidants have influenced Mr. Prime’s designs. “I’m drawn to powerful, independent women,” he stated throughout an interview this summer time. “I imagine these are the types of women who are wearing my pieces; they give me a mood.”
On the feast in July, Mr. Prime unveiled his Twist jewellery assortment, which everybody was attempting on. Impressed by the shapes of coiled snakes, the twisted 18-karat gold and distressed silver items shaped intertwining S shapes in openwork pendants, earrings and rings, most with diamond accents ($6,800 to $22,400). There additionally had been one-of-a-kind snake rings set with massive stones, resembling a five-carat old-mine-cut diamond and a four-carat emerald.
“Twist reminds me of the huge chain necklaces worn in portraits from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, but these are a little punk rock,” Mr. Prime stated. His jewellery themes have been wide-ranging, from his 2015 debut assortment, Mécaniques Célestes, which featured gold sphere pendants and rings that twist open to disclose one other design, to a five-piece excessive jewellery assortment of quirky animals, Magica Naturae, offered in 2021.
“His jewelry is modern,” Ms. Berenson stated, “but at the same time has a baroque quality so they look like they could be from another century. It isn’t like anything you see out there.”
When designing, Mr. Prime stated, he sketches a lady sporting the jewellery, her perspective, hair and style.
“I try to imagine the way a woman will wear the jewelry, what clothing and how to create a balance.”
A Heritage in Vogue
His holistic method to jewellery comes from almost 20 years of working within the style trade, the place he met a lot of his longtime mates. Mr. Prime started his profession in 1997 as an illustrator in Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, the place he met Alber Elbaz. In 2001, he adopted Mr. Elbaz to Lanvin, the place he collaborated with the designer for greater than a decade on outsized, artistic costume jewellery earlier than leaving to determine his personal model.
The jeweler’s consideration to element caught the eye of Inès de La Fressange when Mr. Prime was working as freelance designer on Roger Vivier purses, from 2004 to 2012.
“I saw him making technical drawings and then making them into cardboard maquettes,” stated the French mannequin and designer, who additionally has turn into a detailed good friend. “I said to him why don’t you have an assistant make the maquettes, and he told me that by making them himself, he learns more about the construction and details.”
“You can recognize his jewelry immediately, even though the designs are all different,” she stated. “It has real style and attention to detail.”
Ms. de La Fressange stated she noticed similarities between Mr. Prime and Karl Lagerfeld, the prolific designer who thought-about her a muse. “Elie is the only person who I could compare to Karl,” she stated. “Karl had a huge knowledge of culture and of the history of fashion, costume and jewelry, like Elie does.”
Mr. Prime has been curious since his childhood in northern France, studying and exploring all the pieces from house and mechanics to classic costumes and artwork. All these pursuits make their means into his jewellery: For instance, the thought for his Mécaniques Célestes assortment got here from an exhibition catalog of seventeenth and 18th century astronomical clocks and celestial measuring devices.
“Elie’s pieces have a personality and they’re very individual, that’s why I love to wear them,” Ms. Berenson stated. One among her favorites is his Étoile Mystérieuse hexagonal pendant, which she says makes her really feel empowered.
For Ms. Von Thurn und Taxis, Mr. Prime’s means of setting massive stones in whimsical items or in distressed silver makes them simple to put on day-after-day. “He uses beautiful stones but in a way that is more rock ‘n’ roll and less intimidating.” She wears his massive protect ring with a 1.5-carat emerald on a regular basis, which she stated, “feels like a piece of body armor.”
“There is a lot of jewelry today that is technically beautiful but a little bit boring,” she stated. “In the ’20s, 30s and 40s there were artists like Suzanne Belperron and Jeanne Toussaint creating jewelry, and they had the technique, the style, and great imagination. Elie works in this tradition.”
To a point Mr. Prime’s model is an insider’s marque because it isn’t broadly accessible, however his followers say that’s a part of its allure. “There is a real luxury in wearing something rare, beautiful and something not a lot of people have today,” Ms. de la Fressange stated.
Mr. Prime stated he took pleasure in having ladies put on his designs. “I enjoy the sensation of seeing a woman meet the jewel when it is a perfect match,” he stated. “That means I did my job.”
And his mates all the time cheer him on. “Last night a friend was at a party in New York, and she texted me a picture of another woman’s hand with my huge snake ring with an emerald,” Mr. Prime stated. “That made me really happy.”