GEMOLOGUE – I am always fascinated by industrial look and movements in jewellery. Last week, I was invited to Moda Operandi new space on London’s hidden Grosvenor Crescent Mews to discover Elie Top’s “Mécaniques Célestes” collection.
I have already seen his pieces at the concept store Colette in Paris and instantly fell in love with their signature statement looks. Among the jewels that I was presented with, the one that I adored the most was the Scaphandre pendant in yellow gold and tarnished silver, featuring a rotating sphere that opens up to reveal a diamond-studded globe surrounded by yellow and white gold satellites!
Each piece in the “Mécaniques Célestes” collection can be worn with the rotating gold sphere either closed or open, to reveal the gemstones within. During our conversation Elie described his collection as “a cosmology of jewellery where each piece is itself an entire galaxy”.
Elie Top already has an impressive jewellery journey. He began his career in jewelry design working with legendary Loulou de la Falaise at Yves Saint Laurent, and for the past decade has built on that legacy collaborating closely with Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Mécaniques Célestes collections includes 11 models: three rings, two bracelets and several earrings, and five one-of-a-kind pieces.
When was your brand founded and where is it produced?
The brand was founded last year in May. We launched the first collection in January in Paris. It’s all produced in France.
What are the distinguishing traits of your jewels? What are you trying to communicate?
I tried to focus on the design itself : it’s all about construction, lines, mécanism. the double aspect closed/opended is the main message: association of the industrial aesthetic outside with the most precious/narrative/emotional part inside so what the women can always decides to show it or not. It’s a story of secret, privacy, mystery.
Your pieces are highly detailed, what is your creative process?
I always work in a very precise way, with industrials sketches then there is an important development phase with new technology, chiefly 3D, which allow to go very far in details and refinements.
What is your earliest memory or experience of jewelry?
Certainly the discovery of the jewels designers of the art-deco period and René Boivin, when I was in my early 20’s.
How did you begin working as a jewellery designer?
My story start with costume jewellery in the haute couture world at YSL with Loulou de la Falaise and Alber Elbaz.
Was there ever any option in your mind other than making jewellery for a living?
To be honest, I ended up in jewelry rather serendipitously .. at first I thought I would design clothes… I never made a carrier plan, I sort of just allowed life to unfold and letting myself to be guided by human encounters and interactions.
Where do you find your inspiration/influences? What are you obsessed with right now?
It can be everywhere even in my kitchen with the everyday life appliances and objects . . Also often in furniture, lighting, machines, architecture and of course antics and ethnics jewels.
What are you currently working on?
The next collection which will be launched in january 2016, but also adding new pieces on the Mecanic Celeste collection.
What must never be forgotten when designing a jewel?
The woman body! the woman herself.
How many collections have you designed? What is your favorite collection/piece and why?
Under my name, this is the first collection, my favorite piece is certainly the cuff, I love his shape, roundness, comfort, and spectacular in the same time: futuristic and medieval.
With which stones do you like to work with? What is “your way” of evaluating stones?
I love hard and semi precious stones: labradorite, rock crystal, calcedony, tourmaline, citrine, quartz etc .. I must admit I have a very subjectiv and aesthetic approach, not impressed by the value.
Which countries or which trips do you remember best? Which one makes you dream?
Rome, when I was 9, and India Rajasthan more recently. I dream of Vietnam, and German forest.
How much do you think one can tell from a woman’s own collection of jewelry?
Certainly a lot ! about her fantasy, witt, taste, social life, artistic interest, and wealth! look at Elisabeth Taylor versus Babe Paley or Mona Bismarck.
What is the distinction between costume and fine jewelry?
Perhaps, the costume is more seasonal (more connected to fashion and its bumps) and fine has a more timeless vocation, more emotional appeal-transmission, love presents, life steps (wedding, engagement..)
What jewelry design schools would you recommend?
I never did one , sorry I don’t know..the best is to start working, and learning directly with the workshop.
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