Stellar jewels in Elie Top’s first collection
An encounter with the very chic and very talented Parisian dandy, Elie Top, who has opened his own house of jewellery after ten years of designing flamboyant jewels for Lanvin.
For nearly ten years Elie Top was behind the brilliantly imposing and flamboyant jewellery for the house of Lanvin, reviving the spirit of chic and ultra-creative fantasy pieces traditionally designed by major fashion houses. Today the charming dandy is launching his own house of jewellery with a first collection entitled, “Mécaniques célestes”, a unique synthesis of his opposing inspirations. Spherical forms and rings, a pendant necklace called “Chrysoprase”, the “Pluton” and “Scaphandre” rings, conjugate gold or patina silver with diamonds.
Numéro: Why open your own house of jewellery?
Elie Top: It was the logical next step, after having worked for other people, notably Alber Elbaz. I wanted to express something more personal, and also to explore precious jewellery which I had yet to work with. It ended up taking me out of fashion a little, this creating of more enduring, timeless pieces. It’s also a question of maturity. For a long time I didn’t feel ready to take flight with my own wings, or to put myself out there. You have to have a certain confidence in your artistic and professional capacities. So I had a very long apprenticeship (laughs). Today I am able to assume it, to say “this is me”.
Your collection combines antique looking metals and complex shapes that require 3D design software. Is the idea of reconciling opposites a catalyst for you?
That’s exactly what it is. I wanted to find a style that’s impossible to date, that could be Merovingian or completely avant-garde. I also wanted to synthesise two aesthetics that are very dear to me. The mechanical, industrial aspect that’s present in my obsession for Art Deco, radical lines and volumes. And at the same time my taste for something much more decorative, baroque, from the 16th and 17th centuries. I like this idea of mystery, of secrets, that’s why the jewellery opens and closes. I wanted the jewel to be very pure and modern when closed. Then when opened to transform into something more loaded, more brilliant, with more narrative.
Why the planet and cosmos theme?
To start with I wasn’t going in that direction but then I discovered a book on a collection devoted to celestial mechanics belonging to the father of the antique dealers the Kugel brothers. It’s called Spheres: L’Art des Mécaniques Célestes. The objects in this collection relate to spheres, stars and signs of the zodiac. They are almost scientific objects, but at the same time reveal a sort of cabinet of curiosities. The spheres and globes go back to my taste for pure shapes. So it was an obvious choice. And so the collection also bears that name.
You’re known for your jewellery with imposing dimensions, there’s certainly nothing insipid about it. The same goes for this first collection.
The ‘statement piece’ aspect is an expression of my personal taste, as is the fact I come from a background of costume jewellery. I’ve always loved imposing jewels. It’s what I did at Lanvin. But in my eyes this jewellery is worn very easily over a t-shirt. I find it works well when you’re dressed pretty casually. But of course it all depends on the woman who wears them.
“Mécaniques célestes”, Elie Top’s first collection. On sale at Colette, and by appointment only at 217 rue Saint-Honoré, in a salon decorated by Vincent Darré.
By Delphine Roche