On the Button
Tradition and modernity meet in a new Van Cleef & Arpels collection. Charlene Co examines the heritage and the philosophy behind Bouton d’or
he brilliance of Van Cleef & Arpels is evident in how it has managed, time and time again, to lift designs from its archives decades after they were conceived and reincarnate them in novel ways that remain faithful to the original motifs. Nicolas Bos, the brand’s president and CEO, has often expressed the philosophy that while new collections should be consistent with the spirit of the house and its iconic designs, they should not simply reproduce them. The new Bouton d’or collection is a gleaming example of this thinking.
Bouton d’or is inspired by one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most emblematic creations from the 1930s, the Paillette motif, which also appeared in various iterations in the 1940s and 1950s—from extravagant twostring necklaces and petals of floral-themed jewellery to the tutus of its iconic jewelled ballerinas. More than six decades later, the bead-like motif is revisited, but this time it’s given a more graphic yet balanced appearance. The maison achieved this in two ways. First, by making the “beads” look less round, more like a button—thus the name Bouton d’or—with a pastille-like shape and