Vintage jewelry collectors are clamoring over Karry'O's inimitable Parisian bijou of a boutique. Meet the owner and find out what the buzz is about.
Karry'O, a bijou of a jewelry boutique off Paris' beaten path, has become the secret source for exceptional one-off vintage and original baubles in just two short years. Learn how owner/designer Karine Berrebi put her cozy shop on the international style radar in record time.
If Paris were a woman, she would be as strikingly chic as vanguard vintage gem purveyor and iconoclastic jewelry designer, Karry'O (aka Karine Berrebi – even her close friends now call her by her brand moniker). Surrounded by brilliant baubles in her cozy jewelry box of a boutique, she is the queen of effortless one-of-a-kind elegance. Trained in design at Paris' prestigious Studio Berçot, Karry'O cut her teeth creating for couture houses before launching her own collection of bold, vintage-inspired jewels in the early 1990s. From sensuous sautoirs and colorful semi-precious stone rings, to elaborately eccentric necklaces and long, daring earrings, every Karry'O creation is an icon of contemporary glamour meticulously handcrafted by artisans in Parisian ateliers.
An equally skilled (and indefatigable) collector of rare, resolutely modern vintage jewels, Karry'O decided to put all her beauties under one sumptuous roof when she opened her eponymous boutique in St Germain in 2004. There, intimately shielded behind plush velour screens, her dazzling designs expertly mingle with similarly spirited vintage sourced during her many travels. Fashioned like a cushy apartment salon, it's the perfect setting in which to peruse the rare 1970s Chopard and Bulgari jewelry watches that Karry'O currently covets; slip on a show-stopping 1960s Van Cleef & Arpels sculptural collier; or pile on the long, sultry sautoirs that are the icons of the house.
What is your definition of luxury?
Waking up every day and doing the very thing that impassions you most. It's fantastic.
If luxury were an object what would it be?
A sugar cube in the shape of an emerald-cut diamond.
If luxury were a person who would it be?
Someone with intelligence, energy, humor, gentility and generosity.
If luxury were a place where would it be?
If luxury were a moment when would it be?
A time of total relaxation: enjoying an essential oils-infused bath surrounded by candles.
For you personally, what attracts you to a particular piece?
I have very eclectic, non-commercial tastes. What attracts me to a particular piece is its strength of character, craftsmanship and originality. I'm drawn to pieces that have a sculptural quality, almost like stand-alone works of decorative art.
What are your favorite design periods, and your favorite designers?
I'm very much inspired by the 60s and 70s and the elegant, feminine, hippy-chic aesthetic. In terms of fashion, my favorite designers from that period are Ossie Clark, Yves Saint Laurent, Leonard, Gucci, Givenchy and Balenciaga, and for jewelry I love Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chaumet, Boivin, Cardin and Belperron.
How do you source your jewels?
I'm always on the lookout for interesting pieces. I love the process of tracking down that ultimate gem; the hunt is as satisfying as the actual find. I never miss an exhibition, travel extensively and follow what's going on at auction at all times in order to keep my eyes as fresh and sharp as possible. I also have a very large network of collectors who now approach me to sell their jewels. With such high turnover we now add new pieces every week.
What inspires your own collection and how are the designs crafted?
Since I began designing sautoirs twelve years ago, they've consistently appeared in every one of my collections. I loved the aesthetic of tons of necklaces piled on. You can never have too many. My designs are forever inspired by the 60s and 70s; in a way they are stirred by all that I've seen, but have yet to find. In terms of their fabrication, every one of my designs is crafted by hand by artisans in Parisian ateliers. I'm a huge supporter of French artisans and the spirit of couture.
How involved are you in your client's decisions? Do you participate as a personal stylist might?
We try and encourage our clients to try on as much as possible, to feel comfortable with what they choose, and to experiment with different styles. Very often they come in with specific outfits and we help them find the jewelry that works best. The boutique was designed as an intimate, cozy apartment space in which each and every client has our undivided attention.
How would you define your clientele?
Our clientele is incredibly eclectic. They range in age from 18-70, yet each one comes here because they're looking for an original, unique design. While I never give out the name of my clients, they include many high-profile women including politicians, actresses and models. I recently attended the inaugural dinner at the new Musée des Arts Decoratifs and was delighted to see several women there wearing my designs. I also have a fair share of regular male clients who come looking for specials gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and engagements.
What has been the most astonishing piece you've ever come across?
Any design by Roger Scemama — a gentleman with insane taste who created masterpieces for Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent during the 50s and 60s.
What are your current coups de coeur?
Right now, I'm particularly obsessed with jewelry watches from Chopard, Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels from the 1970s.
Which designs, or designers, are you always on the look out for?
I never search for a particular designer, just the standout, sumptuous piece. I don't have a preconceived idea of perfection; if it is a beautiful bijou, that's perfection to me.
For someone who admits to feeling naked without her jewels, what are your stylistic preferences?
Elegance is in the mix. Combining an exquisite design, for example, with a pair of jeans and flip-flops is totally chic. I don't like styles that are too exaggerated, such as wearing a pair of earrings with a necklace or having a ring on every finger. You only need one or two fabulous pieces to make a statement. Don't overdo it.
62 rue de Saints-Pères
T. + 33 (0)1 45 38 94 67