Paris-based jewelry designer Annelise Michelson is an empowering force. She was working as a fashion designer when Carine Roitfeld gave her the opportunity to create jewelry out of found objects for a shoot. A new career in luxury costume jewelry blossomed from there. Since then, Annelise has enjoyed seemingly overnight success and praise from top editors, buyers, and celebrities for her highly conceptual and sculptural jewelry. We find ourselves regularly wearing Annelise’s pieces because they’re simultaneously lavish yet wearable. Taking nods from 70s and 80s supermodels and couture, art, and the human body, Annelise creates prolific collections that distill the essence of modern glamour. She invited us to her Paris atelier to learn more about her path to jewelry design, her muses, and creative process.
“My path to becoming a jewelry designer was very random actually. I was a fashion designer, and went to a fashion school called École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne in Paris. A friend of mine worked on a project for Carine Roitfeld, who was at the time Senior Editor and Chief of Vogue France. She asked me if I wanted to collaborate on one of the photoshoots by making some jewelry and accessories. By doing that, I realized that I was enjoying myself much more in this field than clothing, and the opportunity gave me a great flow. This made me realize that I was more interested in jewelry. It made me more inspired and excited than making clothes did.
I have always liked powerful and bold jewelry. But I couldn’t find any pieces like that, which is why I started making my own. I am very influenced by sculptures, and when I grew up, they surrounded me. My jewelry collection is feminine, sculptural, and punk-ish with an organic twist. My own personal style is very versatile. Some days I can be boyish, some others, very feminine and sexy. It’s really up to my mood, but I definitely always have fun with my outfit and my jewellery contributes to this to.
My Carnivore Earcuff made my line take off. It was made three years ago before all the other earcuffs. It got a lot of attention and press. When I went to the US three years ago to show my Carnivore collection, that was a big moment for me. I met important people who believed very strongly in the line and spoke about it. These people were Claire Distenfeld of Fivestory New York and Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller and Erica Blumenthal from the New York Times who wrote the first article about me in the United States. Thanks to that, I very quickly had a big turn over and I had to launch the brand in the US! It was a very very exciting moment for me.
My line’s signature pieces are the Carnivore rings and earring. And maybe the Carnivore choker since Rihanna wore it. The Carnivore collection is slightly Punk, Organic, graphic, sharpen and addictive in a way. It came from the idea of having a carnivore graphic mouth and pattern playing around your fingers, your neck. The spiky rings have to be collected on all your fingers; the more the stronger.
The Déchainée Choker is also one of the most popular pieces in my line. The Déchainée collection is contemporary, slightly punk, timeless and and “off the chain.” DÉCHAINÉE, a term that in French means cutting loose in a big way, toys with the idea of deconstruction of oversized chains, broken and contorted in a bold and contemporary way. I was inspired in equal parts by sophistication and femininity and recycling the rough gourmette male chain when I made this collection.
The Draped (Sculptural) collection is sensual, textured, sophisticated, bold and very sculptural. The Draped collection was inspired by a draped fabric, melting metal around your wrist, on the ear, on your neck. In gold, I think that the pieces are very feminine, very luxurious. In gunmetal, it maintains a punk edge. Wearing one is subtle, but as soon as you collect them it looks like an armor. Ultimately, it’s timeless and sophisticated.
The Drops collection is organic, gothic, dripping metal and precious. I was inspired by dripping metal in an abstract way, playing and mixing colours when I made this collection. The Algae collection is organic, abstract, sensual and natural. Delicate seaweeds looking fragile in gold and gothic in gun metal. The Petals collection is very sculptural, bold, curvy and feminine. I designed Sculptural petals to be combined by two in order to get an abstract flower.
I have many muses. Grace Jones from the eighties, Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Debbie Harry from Blondie, FKA Twiggs. All of these strong women with striking personality and style are my everyday inspiration. Since starting this journey, I’ve learned to follow my intuition and not to be afraid to take a risk! –Annelise Michelson
Photography by The Stone Set.