By Sharon Parella & Joseph Marano
Marc Alary is a French-born, New York-based jewelry designer who, since launching his first collection in November 2009, has created exquisite collections using precious metals and precious stones. His work is based on his unique and very personal visions of animals in motion and of nature, and each remarkable elephant, monkey, zebra, panther, insect and leaf seems to be part of a story being narrated by Mr. Alary himself. Mr. Alary’s creations are elegant, and yet still definitively relatable and independent in a manner which is akin to the auteurism of La Nouvelle Vague filmmakers of the 1960s.
On imprinting his unique perspective and personal storytelling through his pieces, Mr. Alary says that “I want people to see my pieces as being alive and created from memories borrowed from childhood … I want people to imagine something.” His approach suggests that the buyers of his jewelry can take his story and make it their own, thus keeping the fictive tale of each piece alive forever. It was Francois Truffaut who famously said that “An actor is never so great as when he reminds you of an animal – falling like a cat, lying like a dog, moving like a fox;” Mr. Alary feels that his animals are similar to actors in that they “shine and have the magnetism of the actors of the truly great eras of cinema.”
Likewise, Mr. Alary’s unmistakable influence over the direction of jewelry design also extends to his distinctive approach to running his workspace and business generally. He currently has a limited number of employees and, given the size of his staff, they are all able to benefit from their professional intimacy with the complex imagination of an artist driven by elegance and real accessibility. For example, Mr. Alary communicates often with his staff about his strong belief in “staying true” to the work, and the importance of putting a voice into every piece that they create. With Mr. Alary, his staff is making more than just jewelry; they are evoking and creating memories for future owners of the pieces. Mr. Alary also teaches that the technical aspects of the creations require meticulous care and special efforts. While Mr. Alary intends to grow his business in the future, he says that he will always “stay true,” and will ensure that neither he nor his staff will ever sacrifice the integrity of his creations, even when they are ultimately working on this larger scale.
Among his many accomplishments (Mr. Alary was previously a jewelry and graphic design consultant for Marc Jacobs and an art director for music labels), Mr. Alary was recently honored as a runner up among ten finalists (chosen from countless applicants) in the elite 2013 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, which included participating in intense judging panels and a studio tour, among other challenges. Competition judges for the award were Anna Wintour (Vogue Editor-in-Chief), Diane von Furstenberg (CFDA President and DVF Founder and Designer), Andrew Rosen (Theory President and Founder), Jenna Lyons (J. Crew Executive Creative Director), Reed Krakoff (Coach President and Executive Creative Director), Steven Kolb (CFDA Chief Executive Officer), Jeffrey Kalinsky (Jeffrey President and Nordstrom Executive Vice President), Mark Holgate (Vogue Fashion News Director), Ken Downing (Neiman Marcus Senior Vice President/Fashion Director), and David Neville and Marcus Wainwright (Rag & Bone Managing Partners). Along with this prestigious honor, Mr. Alary received $100,000 and a one year mentorship with industry veteran Tomas Maier (Bottega Veneta Creative Director). The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition was filmed for a series on Ovation. On receiving this significant honor, Mr. Alary says that “it was a great honor and incredibly special to be part of this.”
With his elegant, yet relatable creations and corresponding approach to his workplace, like many of the great auteurs, Mr. Alary narrates his personal creative vision. Through these magnificent animals, Mr. Alary shares his imagination with those who have the opportunity to see and perhaps even own his unique creations, thereby adding for eternity to plots already in motion.