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Irene Neuwirth’s designs of fine jewels have been one of Barneys New York’s best-sellers for years, and for good reason — her gems are simply stunning. While her pieces will continue to have a special place at the luxury department store, the L.A.-based designer is taking the leap and opening her first retail space that will be dedicated to showcasing her unique designs. “I’ve been wanting to open a store for forever — it’s been my pipe dream,” Neuwirth tells Pret-a-Reporter while lounging comfortably on a rose-pink-colored vintage couch in the middle of her new L.A. flagship situated at 8458 Melrose Place.
With the space’s warm and welcoming mood, shoppers will feel right at home — and that’s definitely the intention. “When you walk into a fine jewelry store, I think it’s typically a very stuffy experience, which is intentional, I think, but I wanted this to be an anti-jewelry jewelry store,” says the CFDA winner for accessory design. “I wanted it to be playful.” It’s no wonder the longtime designer has fans in Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, Lena Dunham, Zoe Saldana and Claire Danes, to name just a few; she knows how to make Hollywood’s leading ladies feel both glamorous and fun.
Pret-a-Reporter stopped by earlier this week to scope out the scene in advance of the shop’s official opening on Nov. 1.
Inside the 2,000-square-foot boutique, designed by Commune (known for their work at downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel), the first section of the store features Neuwirth’s one-of-a-kind pieces displayed neatly by colors and sets of stones, plus a painting by artist Claire Oswalt of her adorable pup, Teddy. For guests who want to take a mini break after checking out the jewels, the middle area is set up like a living room: a long comfy couch, modern chairs, stacks of coffee-table books on shelves, and a painting by her mom, Geraldine, above a fireplace. That’s not all, though. In the back, there’s a professional-grade kitchen, where Neuwirth looks forward to re-creating the experience of entertaining guests at her home on the Venice canals.
Neuwirth designed 300 pieces specifically for the shop. “It took me about six months,” she says. And fans of her work will have to act quickly if they want a piece of her jewels, as each piece is one-of-a-kind, including dreamy opal and diamond drop earrings and bold necklaces made from various stones such as tourmaline, tanzanite, rubies and lapis, to name a few. Prices for the luxury baubles found in the store go up to roughly $200,000.
Much like Neuwirth’s fun and colorful Instagram posts, the boutique’s custom artwork is mesmerizing. From Claire Crespo and Marine Panossian‘s jungle-themed diorama (which displays jewels hanging off rocks and earrings dangling from vines) to an unnamed Lalanne-inspired silver hippo, every piece is pure eye candy. The space also features four watercolors by Oswalt, a meeting table with a bronze base and a pink onyx top, hand-knotted Moroccan rugs, and display cases inspired by French architect Jean Prouve and Italian furniture designer Gio Ponti.
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