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