Donning Diamonds with IRENE NEUWIRTH and BUSY PHILIPPS

Jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth’s Bowery Hotel suite was an exciting place to be on Wednesday afternoon, as she and her friends readied for the launch of her new diamond collection at Barneys New York.

In one corner, the designer tried on an Alaïa cocktail dress. In another, actress Busy Philipps (who co-hosted the launch party with singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom) cracked jokes, while Ms. Philipps’s 2-year-old, Birdie, basked in the thrill of her first trip to New York. When Ms. Newsom swept in wearing a stunning L’Wren Scott lace dress, things got even more glamorous.

In the midst of all the primping, Ms. Neuwirth and Ms. Philipps took a break to chat with Barneys New York about jewelry, jaguars, and the perils of marrying a British royal.

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Barneys New York: Irene, what can we expect from your new diamond collection?

Irene Neuwirth: It’s still my style, but it’s upped a level. It’s not exclusively diamonds, there are just more diamonds and bigger diamonds than normal. I’m also doing engagement rings, which I started making for friends like Vogue editor Lawren Howell, and then it spiraled from there.

BNY: And how did you first get started in the business?

IN: After I graduated from University of Vermont (I went through a hippie phase), I was teaching horseback riding in Malibu. My parents were mortified—they wanted me to get a real job. So I made ten pieces of jewelry and sent it to Barneys in 2001, and that was my first account.

BNY: How did you get to know Busy?

IN: We met at the Hollywood Farmers Market.

Busy Philipps: And we used to eat at the same restaurant, AMMO, all the time.

IN: And we also met at the Joanna Newsom thing. I went to camp with Joanna’s boyfriend, Andy Samberg, when we were nine.

BP: It’s kind of awkward making friends as adults, but once we committed to the friendship, it was gangbusters. We went on vacation together in Mexico…

IN: …and I almost got killed by a jaguar. My room was down this long, scary path. I woke up in the middle of the night and the whole room was shaking, and I heard this crazy animal noise. Later we spoke to another couple, and it turned out that a jaguar had jumped through their window.

BP: That was a bonding experience. And then you found out about Barneys.

IN: Yes, I was so excited to do this new diamond collection for Barneys, and I asked Busy to host the launch event.

BNY: Speaking of events, the Royal Wedding is imminent. Would you ever marry into the royal family?

IN: Oh, no way.

BP: Oh, no. You don’t want to marry a member of the royal family, a professional athlete, or a rock star. Unless it’s Joanna Newsom…

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Once the ladies were gussied up, they headed to Barneys where a bevy of friends came to sip champagne and admire Ms. Neuwirth‘s latest collection, which includes one-of-a-kind pieces crafted from gold, diamonds, opals and sapphires. Among the revelers were actress Michelle Williams, SNL cast member Andy Samberg, actress Lake Bell, producer Harvey Weinstein, and Barneys team members Simon Doonan, Daniella Vitale and Charlotte Blechman.

Click through the gallery to see designs by Irene Neuwirth and photos from the event.


Read more about the event on Fashionista and Style.com, or shop for Irene Neuwirth gems on Barneys.com.

- Tory Hoen

Main photo by Cindy Romano

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