Jewel purpose: meet the designer behind cult jewellery brand Alison Lou

24 March 2022
By Courtney Joe

To mark the launch of Lulu's Collective, Fashion Quarterly speaks to creative director and designer Alison Chemla of Alison Lou.

Alison Lou's 14K yellow gold 'Heart' cocktail rings.

New to Aotearoa shores this week is Lulu’s Collective, a luxury online destination showcasing a considered curation of coveted global jewellery designers such as Alison Lou, EF Collection, By Pariah, Ariel Gordon, Laura Lee Jewellery, Mizuki and more. With a refreshing take on luxury shopping, co-founders — and mother and daughter duo — Debbie Wells and Lauren Boden are set to redefine jewellery investments for modern women countrywide. 

In celebration of the shopping destination’s launch, Fashion Quarterly catches up with one of Lulu’s Collective’s most sought-after designers, Alison Chemla of Alison Lou, whose bright, off-beat fine jewellery designs have taken the world by storm, garnering a cult following among the fashion and celebrity set — with her iconic pieces spotted on the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid, Celine Dion and Selena Gomez.

Your designs are incredibly fun, yet they hold a wondrous sense of grandeur, how do you strike the balance between playfulness and traditionally “fine” jewellery?

This has always been something that I have been very mindful of when designing my jewellery. I like my pieces to feel whimsical while also holding value. Using unexpected pops of colour through either stones or enamel, is a signature of my brand, and when designing, I always want my pieces to be conversation starters. 

You mention that your jewellery is inspired by the “deceptive simplicity of modern communication and beyond” — can you tell us more about that concept, and how that translates into your pieces? 

Jewellery to me has always been such a form of self expression and I have created pieces that allow people to express themselves through their Alison Lou pieces. I started my brand off with Emoji jewellery which catered to people differently, they could wear a Happy Face Necklace and it reflected their mood, which felt very fresh, and since that we’ve created pieces that continue to tell a story. 

Alison Lou.

Tell us about your design process — your designs feature so much energy and personality, where do you search for these inspirations?

I have always designed with a theme in mind. Once I figure out what that theme is, which will either be inspired through travel or books, I will sit down and really take the time to draw out a whole collection. Sometimes a collection theme will hit me in the oddest of places – I thought of Mama Mia, our pasta inspired collection, on a subway ride home from the office. In NYC, inspiration is everywhere. 

Your LOUCITE diffusion collection quickly garnered a cult following among celebrities. Did you expect this kind of response? 

Absolutely not! We were shocked! We created this line to test out the market with a lower price point item. We wanted to create something accessible that still felt like Alison Lou, without competing with the fine jewellery. For the first collection, we ordered a smaller amount of inventory since we were worried about the feedback but luckily it was above and beyond anything we could have asked for! We never ordered that little again! We are so grateful for the constant support season after season. They truly are the lightest, most fun earrings! 

Can you also give us some insight into how the LOUCITE pieces came to be?

I have used enamel since the inception of Alison Lou, it has been a constant in my brand so we wanted to design a piece that was based around enamel. It can be risky to create a lower priced collection when you are in the fine jewellery world, we did not want to hinder our fine business, which is why we chose to work in lucite rather than brass or something that felt like gold. The Jelly Hoops allowed the enamel to be the centrepiece of the jewellery, which was very important to me. Each season people ask, what colours are next? It is so fun to choose and get feedback from our following. I love that they can’t wait for what’s next and continue to add to their collections. 

Alison Lou creative director and designer Alison Chemla.

What’s your most favourite jewellery piece you’ve made to date?

This answer always changes — every time I design a new collection I get excited about the newness! I do love my classic Mrs. Ring. 

While you’ve got an impressive following globally, what excites you about the opportunity to partner with Lulu’s Collective and have women — who previously couldn’t access your pieces easily — experience Alison Lou?

I am so excited to be in a New Zealand stockist! We have a great following there who I know will be thrilled that they can finally shop Alison Lou closer to home and see our pieces in person at the Lulu’s jewellery parties! I am so excited for them because I know how emotional a jewellery purchase can be — often you want to be able to see, touch and feel the piece on you before committing to a purchase. I am so happy we are able to reach a new market and spread our Alison Lou joy. 

Shop Alison Lou exclusively in New Zealand at Lulu’s Collective: a new online destination for the best of the globe’s luxury jewellery brands. To make a purchase, book a virtual styling appointment or host a jewellery party, visit luluscollective.co.nz.

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