Qeelin up­dates an iconic col­lec­tion with its new Cou­ture Wulu line, writes STEPHEN SHORT

#Legend - - JEWELLERY -

SUC­CESS, NO MAT­TER how care­fully and per­sis­tently sought, of­ten re­lies on a com­bi­na­tion of luck and tim­ing. Hav­ing style icon Mag­gie Che­ung wear the Qeelin Wulu col­lec­tion at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in France in 2004 was such a hap­pen­stance; Hong Kong's lead­ing cin­e­matic pres­ence and Wong Kar-wai film favourite was named the fes­ti­val's Best Ac­tress for her per­for­mance in Clean by French di­rec­tor Olivier As­sayas. In that mo­ment, as the world mar­velled at the mag­netism of Che­ung's chic and pen­sive glam­our, en­hanced by her ac­ces­so­rial charm, Qeelin found its nat­u­ral – and right­ful – muse. And no sooner had the Wulu col­lec­tion gone down the red car­pet and the klieg lights faded, than the jew­els lit up Co­lette in Paris and Lane Craw­ford, as the brand opened bou­tiques at Jardin du Palais Royal in the City of Light and ifc mall, in Hong Kong. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Twenty years of it, in fact. Al­though fine jew­ellery brand Qeelin cel­e­brates two decades in busi­ness its de­but was way ahead of its time. Cre­ated by Den­nis Chan it com­bines the best of Western lux­ury busi­ness acu­men with the most ex­quis­ite Chi­nese emo­tions and de­sign, which re­sulted in mean­ing­ful, con­tem­po­rary and univer­sal jew­els – a tribal style alchemy shared be­tween Qeel­in­istas. What's in a name? In this case, the brand is named af­ter Qilin, an aus­pi­cious Chi­nese myth­i­cal an­i­mal and sym­bol of love, to which it added play­ful­ness, sur­pris­ing sto­ry­telling and cul­tural sym­bols.

Chan grad­u­ated from Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity and went to Lon­don, be­fore re­turn­ing to work for renowned “god­fa­ther” of prod­uct de­sign Ken Shi­masaki. In 1989, Chan set up the stu­dio Long­ford, gain­ing in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion as the de­signer of choice for high-end brands and, as one of the world's top Chi­nese jew­ellery de­sign­ers, a host of ac­co­lades fol­lowed, in­clud­ing hon­ours from The Char­tered So­ci­ety of De­sign­ers, Ja­pan's G-Mark, the Singapore De­sign Awards and Mai­son & Ob­ject, Paris. His de­signs have ex­hib­ited at the famed Lou­vre gallery in Paris and the Mu­seum of Mod­ern

Art in New York. “I am en­chanted by Ori­en­tal aes­thet­ics,” Chan says. “Only through the French ded­i­ca­tion to aes­thetic per­fec­tion­ism can the essence be pre­served.” This sen­ti­ment un­der­scores why Chan in­sists on ap­ply­ing western crafts­man­ship to ev­ery de­sign de­tail.

That pas­sion ex­plains the brand's ex­pan­sion since be­com­ing part of global lux­ury group Ker­ing in 2013. To­day, Qeelin's busi­ness flour­ishes in Paris and Hong Kong, Bangkok Beijing, Shang­hai, Seoul and se­lect cities in the United States.

The Qeelin Wulu col­lec­tion is in­spired by the tra­di­tional wulu sym­bol and its un­du­lat­ing lines. El­e­gant, sim­ple and re­fined

in de­tail, the de­sign min­gles gold with clear di­a­monds to cre­ate the pres­ti­gious Wulu – a sym­bol of good for­tune and wealth that also serves as a stylish amulet for ac­ces­soris­ing.

And now there's Cou­ture Wulu, which Chan chose to de­but at this year's Cannes

Film Fes­ti­val. Amid the glit­ter of the Women in Mo­tion din­ner, a trib­ute to the con­tri­bu­tion of women to show busi­ness, award win­ner and global film icon Is­abelle Hup­pert daz­zled in Qeelin Cou­ture ear­rings, as did acclaimed ac­tresses Karena Ng and Ase Wang. Ng stylishly lay­ered a Qeelin Wulu sautoir neck­lace with an 18k rose gold di­a­mond neck­lace, while Wang sported the Qeelin Cou­ture Bam­boo neck­lace, ear­rings and ring in 18k white gold with di­a­monds and ru­bies. The next day, Hup­pert daz­zled in Wulu 18k white gold and di­a­mond ear­rings and match­ing ring.

In this new it­er­a­tion of Wulu, the tra­di­tional gourd shape that re­sem­bles the lucky num­ber eight re­mains the quin­tes­sen­tial sym­bol of style cre­atively re-imag­ined for the mod­ern woman.

The new pieces de­signed for Cou­ture Wulu re­call the echo of the nat­u­ral world, flo­ral blos­som de­signs and leaf mo­tifs in soft, curved shapes, lines and geo­met­ric forms. Fol­low­ing a phi­los­o­phy that art should be part of every­day life, Chan has cre­ated af­ford­able fine jew­ellery pieces that are both mod­ern and stylish.

One of the high­lights of the new col­lec­tion is a del­i­cate Wulu pavé di­a­mond-en­crusted neck­lace of open chain links sup­port­ing a glit­ter­ing open Wulu pen­dant. This new piece en­cir­cles the neck in an orig­i­nal style to cre­ate a stun­ning dou­ble pen­dant that is both el­e­gant and ca­su­ally lux­u­ri­ous. The tra­di­tional pre­sen­ta­tion of the Wulu in a solid for­mat is rev­o­lu­tionised in this orig­i­nal pre­sen­ta­tion which show­cases the over­lap­ping Wulu in­stead of just one.

All a re­minder of Qeelin's con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion. The Qeelin Yu Yi col­lec­tion raised crafts­man­ship to a higher level of ex­cel­lence with its rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Chi­nese longevity lock. Coated ei­ther wholly or in part with the finest di­a­monds and ru­bies, ev­ery de­tail on the lock cap­tures Yu Yi's un­der­stated el­e­gance and so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

Ar­rayed in the form of a ma­jes­tic danc­ing Chi­nese lion, Qeelin Xi Xi, also worn as a Cou­ture ver­sion by Hup­pert in Cannes, is as play­ful and vig­or­ous as it is dec­o­ra­tive. Glit­ter­ing di­a­monds, dark onyx and charm­ing ru­bies are ar­ranged in a lively fash­ion to ren­der the dy­namic dance as a ro­man­tic and

aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing jew­ellery piece. Xi Xi fea­tures a flex­i­ble jaw that al­lows it to open and close its mouth, giv­ing the piece a re­mark­able live­li­ness.

The Qeelin Wang Wang Col­lec­tion (“woof, woof”in Pu­tonghua) was launched in the au­tumn of 2015. It be­came one of the most pop­u­lar col­lec­tions and has re­mained so ever since. Each Wang Wang jewel is a sym­bol of loy­alty and friend­ship. It was in­spired by Chan's affection for an­i­mals, which led him to de­sign jew­ellery that ex­presses the in­tense love peo­ple have for their dogs. The re­sult is a col­lec­tion of exquisitely hand­crafted jew­ellery de­pict­ing six adorable dog breeds in a whim­si­cal, play­ful yet fully el­e­gant man­ner.

The Qeelin suc­cess story, it seems, is eter­nal.

Clock­wise from left: cou­ture Wulu neck­lace in 18k white gold with di­a­monds; cou­ture Wulu ban­gle in 18k white gold with di­a­monds; Xi Xi col­lec­tion; for­mer brand am­bas­sador and Qeelin muse, Mag­gie Che­ung; the Roobot col­lec­tion

Clock­wise from above: Wang Wang di­a­mond dog col­lec­tion; Bo Bo gang; a Yu Yi neck­lace; Is­abelle Hup­pert wears Qeelin in Cannes; Qeelin founder Den­nis Chan, flanked by Ase Wang and Karena Ng

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