The jewelry designer and 2014 CFDA Swarovski Award winner Irene Neuwirth has built a mini empire on her colorful baubles and can now showcase her collection in her first boutique at 8458 Melrose Place in Los Angeles. The 1,850-square-foot shop, next to Isabel Marant on the coveted block that’s also home to The Row, Chloé and Oscar de la Renta, is the first fine-jewelry vendor on the street, and with items ranging from $700 to north of $200,000, the potential for per-square-foot sales is greater than for some bigger brands.
Neuwirth designed nearly 300 new one-off pieces for the store, but don’t expect to see them lit up in shadowboxes with dark-suited security guards and white-gloved salespeople hovering nearby. The boutique resembles an upscale Paris apartment, complete with a gourmet kitchen built into the rear of the retail space, with a window above the sink that looks out onto Marant’s courtyard. The jewelry is displayed in Regency-style vitrines up front, and sprinkled through the “dining room” and “living room” spaces via custom dioramas and cases built into bookshelves.
Design firm Commune created a custom space — from the pink onyx dining-room table to the shearling chairs to the oversize hippo and donkey — meant to feel like Neuwirth’s home. Like her idol Tony Duquette — a painting and a pair of sconces of his also decorate her store — Neuwirth enjoys mixing the not-necessarily-precious with the whimsical, bold and unexpected.
“I just want the whole experience of buying precious jewelry to be un-precious,” she said. “I want people to feel like they can touch things and hang out and not feel like they need to leave the store in two minutes if they’re not buying something.”
Other touches inside include commissions from local artists such as Clare Crespo dioramas, Claire Oswalt watercolors, Aaron Morse hand mirrors and a painting by her mother Geraldine Neuwirth.