Last summer, Yasmina Benazzou launched Haute Victoire, her fine jewelry collection of 18-karat gold and one-of-a-kind pieces, via her web site Hautevictoire.com. The collection is divided into various ranges. Oud D’or, done in collaboration with Moroccan actress Ghita Tazi, is designed from gold-cast actual Oud, the wood used in perfume and set with Tahitian pearls. Blanc Nocturne features braided gold and large South Sea pearls. Nacre Des Lunes is the line’s most playful and accessible range, featuring buoy-shaped charms in gold and with pave diamonds that add movement to rings, bracelets and necklaces. The shape of the charms were inspired by a vintage piece Benazzou found. “It was more like a half a sphere, and the top was in coral and onyx,” she says. “It was static, not moving. And it triggered the idea that an element like this could have a top that I could have with diamond, onyx, mother-of-pearl, turquoise, you know. And if it moves, it’s more interesting.”
Yasmina Benazzou wearing Haute Victoire. Photo Rebekah Schott.
The pieces are distinctive and clearly luxurious, and because they’re sold through Haute Victoire directly, the prices are good: $500 to $3,500. “Usually when you think of fine jewelry, you need a husband, a banker, or a lover. Or maybe the three of them,” says Celine Kaplan, the owner of public relations agency Celine Kaplan PR, who is also a creative consultant on Haute Victoire. “I think there’s a new category of jewelry and woman who is successful,” said Benazzou. “Up to $3,500, you can do it on your own. You don’t need the approval of your banker or your lover or your husband.” Born in Morocco, Benazzou lived in Indonesia and Paris for many years before moving to New York where she’s based now. She studied at Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and had a career as a rug designer at Tai Ping before she decided at age 45 that she wanted to change directions. Benazzou studied gemology at Fashion Institute of Technology in preparation of launching Haute Victoire, which means High Victory in French. “I wanted something that can also be inspiring in a way ,” says Benazzou. “You know, at 45 I changed career I found creativity. It celebrates creativity, women and life.”
A piece from Haute Victoire.
Wholesaling is not part of the strategy for Benazzou and Kaplan. They work with a dealer in Paris, otherwise the plan is to sell Haute Victoire through the web site and private appointments in order to keep the prices relatively low and the margins high. Through word-of-mouth and paid digital marketing, traction is starting to pick up, although the idea is not to scale up immensely and go global. Benazzou says Haute Victoire is not targeting a mass millennial customer. “It’s 35-plus,” she says. “It’s for women who have already experienced luxury and realize it’s a rarity. It’s the thing that is not sold everywhere.”
Originally posted on wwd.com