Jewellery: touch of Luck

To mark 50 years of its inim­itable Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion, Van Cleef & Ar­pels staged an un­for­get­table cel­e­bra­tion in Mar­rakech. Char­lene Co was there

Indonesia Tatler - - Contents -

Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion and its 50 years were cel­e­brated in Mar­rakech

I ntro­duced in 1968, Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion, with its four-leaf-clover mo­tif, has ef­fort­lessly en­dured for five decades and sur­vived fleet­ing trends. Luck has al­ways been a favourite theme of the French mai­son, with four-leaf clovers mak­ing their first ap­pear­ance in its ar­chives in the 1920s. It was un­der the in­flu­ence of the free-spir­ited, peace-lov­ing vibe of the 1960s that Van Cleef & Ar­pels cre­ated the Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion, and th­ese sym­bols of luck have per­haps be­come the brand’s most em­blem­atic line.

In reach­ing the half-cen­tury mile­stone, the Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion is tes­ta­ment to the time­less style of the mai­son and its savoir faire. In late May, to cel­e­brate its big 5-0, Van Cleef & Ar­pels in­vited its friends and me­dia to a bash we couldn’t pos­si­bly refuse in beau­ti­ful and ex­otic Mar­rakech.

And, boy, was it some party. The cel­e­bra­tions kicked off with lunch served on the man­i­cured lawns of the French con­sul’s home. We feasted on a de­li­cious spread of French dishes with a Moroc­can twist pre­pared by Yan­nick Al­léno, a French chef with three Miche­lin stars, who was flown in for the oc­ca­sion. Across the lawn by the pool was a tent filled with stun­ning 1970s vin­tage cou­ture by Paco Ra­banne, Yves Saint Lau­rent, Pierre Cardin and Karl Lager­feld for Chloé, to name a few, which we could dress in and ac­ces­sorise with fe­dora hats, feather boas, over­sized sun­nies and, nat­u­rally, Al­ham­bra jewellery. The stun­ning home—with its beau­ti­fully tiled fire­places, hand­crafted wooden fur­ni­ture, walls full of art­work and floors lined with richly pat­terned Moroc­can rugs—was trans­formed to im­merse us in the Al­ham­bra world. Crafts­men stooped over benches work­ing on Al­ham­bra pieces greeted us in the foyer, which led to a sit­ting room where vin­tage Al­ham­bra jewellery cu­rated by the mai­son’s her­itage di­rec­tor, Catherine Car­iou, was on dis­play, glint­ing with lapis lazuli, tiger eye, onyx and wood. More crafts­men around the room, se­lect­ing and pol­ish­ing stones, gave a sense of the level of skill

re­quired in all as­pects of pro­duc­ing this oth­er­wise sim­ple-look­ing col­lec­tion of jewellery.

The event gave us the op­por­tu­nity to meet jour­nal­ist Ni­cholas Foulkes, who wrote a book, also ti­tled Al­ham­bra, de­tail­ing the his­tory, emer­gence and sig­nif­i­cance of the col­lec­tion, as well the di­rect­ing duo Burcu & Ge­of­frey, il­lus­tra­tor Julie Joseph, and pho­tog­ra­phers So­nia Si­eff and Damian Foxe, all of whom were com­mis­sioned by Van Cleef & Ar­pels to ex­press through their re­spec­tive medi­ums their in­ter­pre­ta­tions of luck and the iconic Al­ham­bra col­lec­tion.

The event cul­mi­nated in an awe-in­spir­ing din­ner at the ru­ins of the 16th-cen­tury El Badi Palace, which was built for Sul­tan Ahmad al-mansur of the Saa­dian dy­nasty. The flick­er­ing light of 10,000 can­dles greeted us on ar­rival at the palace’s vast in­ner court­yard, where a din­ner of tra­di­tional Moroc­can fare cre­ated by Chef Al­léno was served as we were ser­e­naded by Swedish singer/song­writer Peter von Poehl and French singer Marie Mo­di­ano.

In the tight cir­cles of high jewellery, Van Cleef & Ar­pels is known for its epic events, and this one was no ex­cep­tion. I cer­tainly was one very lucky mon­key to have landed this gig.

ode to a tal­is­man Clock­wise from top: Ex­am­ples of vin­tage Al­ham­bra jewellery pro­duced through the decades; Pho­tog­ra­pher Damian Foxe; Ni­cholas Foulkes’ book Al­ham­bra and vin­tage pieces from the col­lec­tion

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