After 25 years in the business British jeweller and fashion favourite Alex Monroe has just launched his first ever high street collection – a collaboration with Evans. ‘It’s quite a risk really,’ he told us this week, ‘because firstly it’s a high street shop, secondly it’s mass produced and thirdly there are people who think you should just be designing for the beautiful, thin people. But I think it’s really important to democratise it and if you’re a designer and you have any faith in what you’re doing it’s much nicer to offer it to everyone rather than keeping it exclusive and la di da.’
The 15 piece collection, called ‘Alouette’ (French for skylark), centres around gold leaf motifs and is inspired by glamorous women and the golden days of travel. ‘I was thinking about a bygone sort of glamour,’ says Alex, ‘and I didn’t want to be Hollywood, unattainable glamour, I wanted it to be quite personal and intimate. So the kind of picture I imagined was watching your mum getting dressed up for a dinner party, you know, when you’re a kid and she gets out all of her trinkets and things, so it’s about your mothers jewellery box.’
Luxury is key to the Alex Monroe brand, and he and his team have been heavily involved in everything from the quality of the finished pieces to the collection’s packaging. ‘It’s not just about the piece of jewellery, it’s about the weight of it and the material that it’s made of, the way it sounds when you put it down, the way it’s packed and how it’s sold to you, it’s all important and they’ve been brilliant at Evans.’
He’s very pleased with the results - and he's not the only one.’ I think it opens up what we do to a wider audience because the price is so great but it doesn’t clash with what we do. Right at the start we said everyone at the workshop has got to want to have a piece or the project will have failed and when we got the proper samples back everyone was going, ooh can I have one of them, can I put an order in, so I thought that’s it we’ve done alright.’
So with 25 years designing jewellery under his belt what does he think is the key to his success? ‘I think it's luck mostly and maybe a bit of stupidity and having nothing to fall back on! Sometimes it’s depressing because a lot of the people who work for me weren’t even born when I started. When you go to Paris Fashion Week and you’re with all the young, enthusiastic designers and you tell them you’ve been doing it for 25 years they just look at you like, Jesus, 25 years. But actually I really like it and why would you do anything else if you really like it and you can make a living out of it?’
And Alex is still finding new projects to sink his teeth into – next up is a book. The name is under wraps for now but he did tell us that ‘It’s about making jewellery but it’s a wordy book, partly biographical. It’s going to come out February 2014.’ So watch this space.
In the meantime the Alex Monroe for Evans is in store now.