Contemporary jewelry artist, Alice Hubert represents all the best parts of the Paris I moved to over ten years ago, a little chic, retro, authentically hand-crafted but still all shiny and new.
It would be banal to simply label her pieces “pop-art”. And it’s when she shows me a comic book by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert I really “get” what she’s doing. It’s psychedelic motifs simplified, shaped and made sensual. Yet her unusual road to refining her art give her collections the kind of quality and texture that comes from being crafted by hand… a solidity and finish that range from fine art to industrial punk.
Illustration, inspiration by Guy Peellaert
“I started making jewelry as soon as I left school. I attended L’école Boulle, which at that time was specialized in furniture making, they were the original furniture makers for the French king Louis XIV. I specialized in metal chasing (la ciselure). I worked on metal to give it volume and form. It was hard and fast artisanal work, with chisels directly on the metal.”
Alice’s artisanal background is hinted at throughout her work. There is a certain industrial punk vibe in certain pieces, like the Badinerie collection that are adorned with a simply cut square and each word, love, kiss, fuck seemingly stamped into the metal. The proportions are feminine, even delicate in contrast to the provocative words.
Badinerie collection: love, kiss, fuck.
“Boulle is not at all specialized in jewelry (they have since added a jewelry-making study path in the curriculum, in partnership with dedicated Jewelry school Nicolas Flamel). It was really more for metal work, furniture design and construction. We were taught metal chasing to create things like the decorative lion paws you can find adorning the feet of a Louis XIV sideboard. I learned these techniques knowing I would go one to apply them to jewelry. I really had to battle my way to re-appropriate some of these techniques and be assessed alongside my peers by teachers who wanted me to be making tables. In the end I received the highest mark for my final exam piece a body piece, based on the theme cultural mix, “métissage culturel”.
Hubert's winning body piece.
“It was at Boule that I really understood how to work the materials, really understand metal. When I finished I started working with various little independent labels and in the evening I took night classes to refine the jewelry making side of my art form.”
“My inspirations, diverse and varied! I like it when jewelry becomes a game, a game of seduction. There is a sort of interactivity, like a game of come and go: people need to come and take a closer look… to really explore the piece.”
“My inspirations, can also come from art and music. Yes, pop art... fantasy. The result is a kind of high quality fashion or costume jewelry, I spend quite a lot of time on each piece. It’s a very intricate artisanal process. The look is very specific, basically I make pieces that i want to wear. I draw a piece I want and then I create it and extend the collection around it.”
“My inspirations? I grew up with a father who loved comics, we had an entire walled shelved with comic books. You can see this influence in my graphics and illustrations: super-sexy and psychedelic. Girls, super sex, half naked. There are loads of references to that very graphic culture of illustration”
"My favorite piece today, umm the lips, La Fumeuse from NuLook. The Image is so simple, it sends a clear message, that of seduction. It’s punchy and sensual at the same time. People so often comment that when they wear it, that they are stopped in the street. And from the same collection there is the Petit Baiser, the little kiss, for those who are intimidated by the NuLook Fumeuse and don’t dare, it’s still a wink to sensuality.”