With lau­rel, oak, wheat and lilies, says Chaumet. vis­ited its se­cret gar­den at the Mai­son’s his­tor­i­cal ad­dress at 12 Place Vendôme

Prestige (Singapore) - - JEWELLERY - CANDICE CHAN

NA­TURE FAC­TORS HEAV­ILY in Chaumet’s de­sign vo­cab­u­lary. For more than two cen­turies, it has been ten­derly cul­ti­vat­ing an en­chant­ing gar­den teem­ing with be­jew­elled flora and fauna. They range from peren­nial favourites, such as the hy­drangea and lau­rel, to the exotic, such as the red lily. While some have bloomed, withered and faded into obliv­ion over time, oth­ers have planted deep roots and bore wit­ness to sig­nif­i­cant mo­ments in the Mai­son’s 236-year his­tory.

In July, four of them — the lau­rel, oak, wheat and lily — were re­vealed as the cre­ative themes for the brand’s new high jew­ellery col­lec­tion, La Na­ture de Chaumet.

Com­posed of 54 de­signs (an­other 10 will be un­veiled later this month) di­vided among the four lines, they were dis­played, as per tra­di­tion, in the brand’s beloved salon at 12 Place Vendôme. En­sur­ing the col­lec­tion re­ceived the grand de­but it de­serves, the lo­ca­tion was trans­formed into a lush pa­per gar­den, com­posed of plots of wil­lowy wheat stalks, over­sized red lilies, lau­rel bushes and even a gi­ant oak tree.

The metaphor­i­cal stroll through Chaumet’s se­cret gar­den be­gan with the lily, a sym­bol of in­no­cence and the em­blem of the French kings (fleur-de-lis). Em­press Josephine de Beauhar­nais, its most im­por­tant pa­tron and muse, loved lilies — and not just any prover­bial lily but those of the red va­ri­ety, a far rarer breed. Her pas­sion for the flower was so well­doc­u­mented that it was even­tu­ally named after her: Known as the Brunsvi­gia josephi­nae or Josephine’s Lily, they bloomed in her man­i­cured gar­dens at the Château de Mal­mai­son; a paint­ing of the flower was also known to grace the in­te­ri­ors of the chateau.

Di­a­monds, in­can­des­cent red spinels, rhodo­lite gar­nets, Paraïba tour­ma­lines, black opals and coloured sap­phires were used to ac­cen­tu­ate the fem­i­nine na­ture and vo­lu­mi­nous curves of the flower. The red lily that the Em­press was so en­am­oured by is dar­ingly in­ter­preted in the Pas­sion In­car­nat line, com­posed of au­da­cious de­signs set with vi­brantly coloured stones. Ex­ud­ing a starkly dif­fer­ent vibe is the Songe de nuit line that ref­er­ences the white lily, a sign of pu­rity: With their open-worked lily mo­tifs em­bla­zoned with di­a­monds, th­ese of­fer a more sub­tle in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the con­spic­u­ous bloom.

The most eye-catch­ing jew­ellery in this theme is the Pas­sion In­car­nat tiara that comes with six pear-shaped Tan­za­nian red spinels. Tiaras have a spe­cial place in Chaumet’s uni­verse; its rep­u­ta­tion as the cre­ator of tiaras is sup­ported by an ar­chive filled with thousands of blue­prints from or­ders com­mis­sioned more than 200 years ago. The ar­chi­tec­turally stun­ning head­piece can be trans­formed into two brooches or a pen­dant neck­lace. Al­though not a new con­cept to the jew­eller, trans­forma­bil­ity ap­peared to be a big­ger pri­or­ity this time round.

The Em­press’s do­main nat­u­rally pro­gressed to that of her hus­band’s, Napoleon. The great em­peror of France, who was of­ten de­picted in paint­ings with his lau­rel crown, re­mains an im­por­tant source of in­spi­ra­tion for the Mai­son. As a trib­ute to his nu­mer­ous con­quests, Chaumet drew on the lau­rel, a sym­bol of im­mor­tal­ity and vic­tory, as its sec­ond theme.

Pre­sent­ing a mod­ern fem­i­nine in­ter­pre­ta­tion and of

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