The Paris-based designer creates pieces that will empower her customers, rather than simply decorating them
Who is it?
Paris-based jewellery designer Annelise Michelson
Why do I want it?
Tough-but-feminine high fashion jewellery with an organic feel
Where can I find it?
At her e-shop, in select department stores, and as of October, in Selfridges
Who is it? Paris-based jewellery designer Annelise Michelson cut her teeth in ready-to-wear, passing directly from the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, where she studied fashion design, to stints at brands including Vanessa Bruno and Hermès, before she even considered making a transition to the world of metals. “After a couple of years I started to realise that I couldn’t really find my place in that industry. I felt as if there was nothing for me,” she says. When an artistic director friend requested that she create some pieces for a shoot for French Vogue, she agreed, if somewhat reluctantly. “I was not interested in jewellery, because I thought that it was very girly, and I am not a ‘girly girl’,” she continues. A “bunch of requests” followed, and “I had all of this enjoyment about my pieces, and I began to think – maybe I have something to say”. Her eponymous brand was born soon afterwards, and has been releasing a collection each season ever since.
As a jewellery designer who “was not interested in jewellery”, Michelson’s approach remains nontraditional. She approaches her pieces like design objects; they are bold, sculptural creations which are both tomboyish and feminine at the same time, in an apt representation of the many facets of womanhood. “I thought of the diversity that I find in women, and that it would be interesting to have a piece of jewellery that actually reflects all of that. Something very fragile and pure, but at the same time something with a lot of strength. Something organic, but that isn’t too literal. I think about that, and all of these contrasts, and that’s how I make my pieces.” From her very first release, Carnivore – a fusion of spiky zigzags and glamorous crown-like forms – to the industrial-feeling nuts-and-bolts realness of Alpha, the industry has become besotted.
Why do I want it? With her new collection, Solar, Michelson pivots to place emphasis back on the organic and the natural. The namesake piece, a solar pendant and matching hoop earrings, suggest a lunar crater, its surface burnt through by a passing sun. There’s something “lightening” about them, she insists – like they are radiating an orange warmth. “Most of the time my pieces are statements, they empower women,” Michelson says, “but when you wear the pendant you really feel like you have a sun on your chest. And on top of that, it falls on top of the heart chakra.” The other, named lava, is a drop earring which resembles a flow of viscous volcanic fluid, elemental and somehow very solid, too. “It is very graphic, very sharp, but very sensual at the same time. It’s a delicate piece, but it is fiercely empowering and strengthening, and it defines the look of your face.” Both are earthy and unexpectedly modern in shiny bronze and silver. Which brings our conversation to another draw of Michelson’s pieces – their price point. “I work with one of the best houses in France,” she affirms – indeed, Chanel is among their client list, she confirms – “and my work is high fashion jewellery, but not just a fashion piece, you know? They are precious pieces that you can keep forever. The beauty of it is that it is only bronze, so everybody can afford it. It is not about the cost of the metal, it is about the design of it.”
The corresponding lookbook is shot by none other than Samuel Bradley – the latest in a line of like-minded photographers Michelson has selected to work with on her collections. The process which precedes such shoots is crucial to Michelson. “It comes from my imagination, so I really need to connect with the person, and I also need them to bring something new and different from my point of view and from my universe,” she says. “So it makes a whole new story, and in that sense we complete each other.” For this, Bradley was a neat fit. “I chose Samuel because he works like a painter; the composition, the colours, the light he uses really make a picture sensitive and alive. He’s making and catching a moment of beauty, with nothing more than his argentic camera.”