PARIS — Place Vendôme, home to the Ritz Hotel and some of the world's most prestigious jewelers, may seem a playground for Europe's young social set. But on Wednesday afternoon, 21-year-old Greek heiress Eugenie Niarchos was in full work mode as she held court at the Repossi boutique for the launch of a jewelry line, Czarina, that she designed in collaboration with her childhood friend, Gaia Repossi, also 21.
The tie-up, the latest for a high-profile celebutante (Paris Hilton, for instance, earlier this year unveiled a watch collection for Parlux), is meant to breathe youth into the Monte Carlo, Monaco, house run by Repossi's father, Alberto.
"Fine jewelry doesn't always work for the day, so I suggested to my father that we needed something in between," said Repossi, who added Niarchos was perfect for the mission because of her playful approach to accessorizing.
On Wednesday, for example, the Greek heiress wore long, lace-like rings from the new collection, mixed with vintage pendants and jangling gold bracelets by Marc by Marc. "I love to wear jewelry, but it doesn't have to be all about karats," Niarchos said.
The pair began to work on the collection last September, holding clandestine creative meetings in favorite Parisian haunts, such as the Café de Flore, where Niarchos did most of the talking while Repossi captured her ideas on paper. "We took inspiration from vintage jewelry and liked the idea of designing something that would resemble lace or henna tattoos from afar," said Niarchos of the collection's intricate Byzantine air.
The line encompasses four categories, cuffs, rings, pendants and earrings, and comes in four colors of gold; some pieces are studded with tiny diamonds. Prices run from $500 for a pair of gold lace studs to $50,000 for a large yellow gold and rose-cut diamond bracelet. The collection, which also features subtle references to house signatures, such as bows, is the first of a new contemporary line Repossi will call Ere by Repossi. The Niarchos collaboration, the first in that series, is expected to last several seasons.
"Those were inspired by styles women wore in the Sixties that climbed up the ear," said Niarchos of one intriguing caterpillar-shape earring.A selection of high-end stores, including Harrods and Dover Street Market in London, and Montaigne Market in Paris, already has placed orders, the company said.
The designers have been testing the theory that it helps to have friends in high places. Their pals Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco and heiress Tatiana Santo Domingo already have been spotted wearing pieces from the Czarina line. Milla Jovovich is also said to have bagged some pieces, and Karl Lagerfeld stepped in to snap the official portraits of the designers.
It's a union, according to Repossi, that's set to endure. The pair is already discussing ideas for the next collection and promised there would be many more to come. "Let's just say that the next line will involve reptiles with many heads," revealed Niarchos.
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