Ring Leader: Eugenie Niarchos
When thinking about the fashion scene’s hot young things, sci-fi flicks and space exploration aren’t the first pursuits that come to mind. Yet, that’s exactly what fuels Eugenie Niarchos—daughter of Greek shipping heir Philip Niarchos, front-row fixture and founder of the fine jewelry label Venyx. “The costumes, the jewelry and the settings of those movies really inspire me,” says Niarchos. “I watched Star Wars as a kid and now I’m starting to revisit movies like Blade Runner and Metropolis again.”
Still, she’s unlikely to be spotted at Comic Con. Each year, Niarchos presents Venyx to buyers and editors during the Paris couture season, and this summer she showed her latest collection, Oseanyx, which explores both the deep sea and the cosmos. “It’s basically how underwater life would be similar to life in outer space,” says the designer, who cheekily wore Charlotte Olympia’s Message in a Bottle platform sandals to the presentation. Oseanyx features gold rings that look like scallop shells, swirling hoop earrings take their shape from nautilus shells and stingrays dotted with vibrant emeralds, sapphires, rubies and diamonds. Some designs are hand-engraved as if they were long-sunken treasures. Others, set with enamel, glow in the dark like bioluminescent sea creatures.
“Man can create beautiful things—paintings, architecture and sculpture—but what nature creates is unbelievable,” says Niarchos. “The colors, textures and shapes are my main inspiration, and then I add a futuristic twist.”
Niarchos is among an exciting group of young Europeans bringing a modern sensibility to the fine jewelry market. Fourth generation Delfina Delettrez’s surrealist diamond and pearl earrings with ruby lips and gold and enamel honeycomb cuffs have become akin to status symbols among the cool set, and Gaia Repossi’s articulated diamond-band finger cuffs and abstract chokers have reinvigorated her family’s 90-year-old house. At 19, Niarchos worked with her friend Repossi on two capsule collections, which is what led her to a career in jewelry design. “What’s nice about jewelry is that it makes people dream.”
She enrolled in the esteemed Gemological Institute of America in London and, after graduation, apprenticed at Christie’s in its fine jewelry division. In 2008, she collaborated with French designer Vanessa Seward, then creative director at Azzaro, on three costume jewelry offerings and later Niarchos worked with knitwear label Lucien Pellat Finet on a limited edition selection of sweaters with bauble encrusted necklines.
When she launched Venyx in 2012, “it was a bit of a surprise for a lot of people because I didn’t really talk about it,” Niarchos says. And although she’s garnered an extraordinary amount of success in only three years—the collection is sold in more than 15 stores worldwide, including The Webster at Bal Harbour, and counts Russian media maven Miroslava Duma and London-based designer Mary Katrantzou among its supporters—Niarchos admits to the same jitters as any emerging designer. “There’s always that thing in the back of your mind: what if no one will like it?”
Little chance, says The Webster’s Laure Hériard-Dubreuil. “The Bal Harbour customer is very well-traveled and educated in fashion and luxury. She’s looking for a statement piece that is not seen everywhere. Venyx is the perfect fit.”
All images courtesy of Venyx.