Akillis’ edgy and cool designs are crafted with the highest quality materials with traditional French know-how and innovative techniques. An adventurer at heart, Caroline Gaspard’s unisex designs are daring and exciting. The designer is not afraid to draw inspiration from mythology, ethnic groups, action movies, adventure or animal world.
This powerful and symbolic jewelry is handcrafted in Lyon (France) by highly skilled goldsmiths.
With the latest Tattoo Collection, Akillis continues to explore ethno-rock, enriching the unique field of jewelry-as-ink in homage to the tattoo artistry of the Maori. Maori warriors defined themselves by acts of bravery, which translated into social status. Tattoos - a symbol of prestige - bore witness to their endeavors, forming a record of important events. Gaspard was captivated by the commendable courage and strength that inspired the inkings, just as she was inspired by the heroism and mindset of the legendary Greek, Achilles, who has lent his name to the Akillis brand for over 10 years.
Tanja Beljanski: What made you decide to start your own high jewelry brand?
Caroline Gaspard: I started from the observation that there were only brands for fashion accessories or more classic jewelry. After several refusals to personalize jewelry from major jewelry houses, I decided to create my own brand and accept to customize my creations upon customers’ requests. Above all, it had to be rock and edgy to get away from classic and traditional jewelry designs, and appeal to men and women alike.
TB: Tell us about the name AKILLIS, and the manifesto of independence from the established norms of the 21st century.
CG: The name AKILLIS was an evidence for me because I have always been fascinated by mythology. I chose to use the name of the most rockstar like character from Greek mythology, Achilles, which is Achillea in Greek. I also named my son Achille. According to the legend he will be a rock and rebel hero of the playground (laughs). In a way, jewels and diamonds are Women’s Achilles heel.
TB: How would you sum up the aesthetic of your brand and how it resonates with your own personal style?
CG: All the creations that I make stand out from other jewelry houses. By the way, people tend to believe that Akillis designer is a male (laughs). I think it is a beautiful compliment as it expresses the strength and the spirit of conquest that is infused in the brand. I love to get inspiration from my personal experiences and all the people that I had the chance to meet all around the world during my travels.
TB: What is it about Greeks and the mythology that fascinates you so much, so you use it as inspiration for your collections since creation of AKILLIS in 2007?
CG: I have always been a fan of Greek architecture and sleek lines. I like geometric and sharp designs. I like the shapes that fit together, it is a real seduction game between two pieces, two people!
TB: AKILLIS pieces are powerful and symbolic. How do you want to see your pieces worn?
CG: I believe Jewelry and High Jewelry should be worn every day. I am not a fan of jewels that you put in your safe and wear only for special events. The new generation is really into mixing jewelry with jeans or day wear, which allows them to convey a message and express their true personality. When I feel like a good girl, I am wearing puzzle, and when I am feeling like a bad girl, I choose ‘Fatal Attraction’ or ‘Bang Bang'.
TB: How do you go about naming your pieces?
CG: I try to find memorable names from songs, movie titles, or the once that describe the collection design. Then I reinterpret it to convey the idea of the collection while keeping it elegant and rock.
TB: Why is the Middle East important to AKILLIS?
CG: The Middle East market has always been of interest for the brand. As an example, the second clientele of our Paris flagship store are Middle Eastern from Dubai and Saudi Arabia in particular. It seems that AKILLIS really appeals to these customers. Therefore, we have decided to intensify our presence in the region. Starting with an event in Dubai last year, which was the opportunity to showcase the brand and all its facets. But there will be much more to come over the next months, mainly with a larger distribution.
TB: Have you noticed any particular jewelry trends in the Middle East?
CG: The earcuff and jewels that hold on to the ears, a mix and match of bangles with different gold colors, and for rings, a mix of stacking and rings on different fingers.
TB: In your opinion, what are the top three trends in fine jewelry today?
CG: Everybody loves accessories, especially right now. You can see more and more people wearing small pieces that you can stack. The brand-new trend is also the earcuff of all shapes and sizes. You can wear a big one or many of small ones to create and personalize your style. But most of all, mixing gold colors.
TB: Before the coronavirus lockdown came into effect, what were you working on?
CG: I was working on a special order for a big customer. It is a bracelet with a horse head named Bucephalus. I was excited about this special order because I am a huge fan of horses, so it was really interesting to take the subject and create a new vision of horses by Akillis.
TB: How has coronavirus impacted upon your business?
CG: Obviously both retail and workshops were locked down, so there was no activity on those sides. However, we took advantage of this break to move forward with development of our new website and e-commerce that will be launched in fall. As well as to fine tune our communication strategy and think about new collections for 2021.
TB: AKILLIS is produced in the company’s workshops in France. How are you supporting your employees at this time?
CG: Activities have started again since mid-May and our workshops are now producing for our second semester new collections launches.
TB: What is your design ethos?
CG: Always find the unexpected and unconventional designs to fit with my style and the mood of the day. Dare to express yourself!
TB: What’s your strategy for business post-crisis?
CG: We are keeping the course of our strategy. However, we are paying an increased attention to price points and strive to offer both meaningful and accessible collections as we think that customers will be more than ever thoughtful about their purchases.
TB: What is luxury to you?
CG: Good health especially in these hard times of pandemic and having time to enjoy life.
TB: What is the one piece of AKILLIS jewelry that every woman should invest in?
CG: A piece from our latest collection, Tattoo. With the Tattoo Collection, I was intent on creating an outstanding collection, a fresh idea aimed at the younger generations in search of something that truly speaks to them. To put forth your personality, what could be more natural than a tattoo, a jewelry tattoo touching the body, fashioned like lace to reveal the skin through sparkling strokes of calligraphy. I loved playing with the graphic style of the tattoos, the sharp, stinging shapes tempered by the soothing roundness of waves. More than anything, the Tattoo collection is a state of mind. It is the only tattoo you can apply, swap, or remove wherever, whenever, however.
TB: What is the motto you live by professionally?
CG: I will go beyond my dreams and always dream big.
TB: What advice would you give to young women today?
CG: Trust your lucky star and be strong to achieve your goals.