On a recent visit to Paris, style icon Cherie Chung immersed herself in jeweller Chaumet’s storied past. She chats with Charlene Co about the maison’s illustrious history and its perpetual muse, Empress Joséphine
A style icon immerses herself in Chaumet’s storied past
Ghaumet crafted magnificent jewellery for the court of Napoleon Bonaparte, especially for his first wife, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, for whom the French maison produced numerous beautiful tiaras, clips and other pieces that continue to provide inspiration for the the brand’s designers today. Known for her impeccable taste and love of nature, Joséphine was a breath of sophistication and creativity in Napoleon’s rigid and masculine court.
Centuries on, the jeweller has found a modern-day version of its royal muse in Hong Kong actress Cherie Chung, who, at 57, remains as beautiful and graceful as she was when she first captivated hearts locally and internationally on the silver screen in the 1980s. On a recent visit to Paris, Chung immersed herself in the history of the French maison and retraced the sophisticated lifestyle of Joséphine. She shares this memorable experience and how it feels to be associated with such an admired historical figure.
tell us about your trip.
We visited a lot of places but the most unforgettable one for me was the Palace of Fontainebleau. We had a chance to enter areas which are usually restricted, and there I had a glimpse of the palace’s glorious imperial existence. The royal gardens, which were built at different times, and the palace are now separated by a street, but this doesn’t make these historic treasures any less captivating.
What was it like exploring chaumet’s archives?
This brings me to the second most memorable visit on the trip— Chaumet’s museum at its flagship store on Place Vendôme. Though I have been there a number of times before, I’m still mesmerised by it. The building was formerly the residence of the composer Frédéric Chopin and has a very elegant atmosphere. The museum houses a large collection of design sketches for the house’s jewellery over the years, which helped me understand the inspirations behind Chaumet’s collections, as well as the brand’s history and constant pursuit of impeccable aesthetics.
How do you feel about being compared to empress Joséphine?
It’s an honour but I would never compare myself to anyone. The empress was a creative, independent and innovative woman. She was unrestrained and loved nature, and in many ways was a woman ahead of her time. And this confidence and charm can be seen in a lot of today’s strong, modern women in constant quest for self-fulfilment.
How does this chaumet endorsement differ from your others?
Chaumet’s jewellery has a very royal feeling, which I like very much. Wearing these noble and to some level spiritual pieces is always an immense delight. Moreover, with timeless design and superb craftsmanship, they are really like artefacts, but they can be worn every day.
Jewellery suite and timepiece in white gold and diamonds from the Chaumet Joséphine Rondes de Nuit collection