THE STYLE LIST
Jewels from the Dior à Versailles, Pièces Secrètes collection; and Chopard’s jewellery-inspired Happy Diamonds handbag
In the late 1600s, when Louis XIV decided to transform a relatively modest château in Versailles into his primary palace, he knew that architecture could be an effective tool in communicating power. The Palace of Versailles was made into the home of the French court, and went on to become an enduring symbol of the opulence and decadence of Louis XIV’s reign.
The palace has acted as a source of inspiration for the House of Dior since its founder designed his firstever haute couture collection. More recently, Victoire de Castellane, artistic director of high-jewellery for Dior, has used the palace to inform her own creations. Her latest collection, the final part of a triptych dedicated to the French monument, hones in on the hidden parts of the palace – the private passageways, clandestine boudoirs and other unseen aspects.
De Castellane’s first homage to the French palace, dubbed simply Dior à Versailles, saw her “imagine Versailles by night when gemstones sparkle in the candlelight”. As such, chandeliers are referenced in the diamond drop of a necklace; a curtain tie-back from the royal apartments is reimagined as a pair of earrings; and a bow is taken directly from a piece of decorative Rococo-style furniture.
The second part of the triptych, Dior à Versailles, Côté Jardins, or Versailles, act II, celebrates the palace’s expansive gardens, drawing inspiration from its flower beds, groves, ponds, statues and sandy walkways, in a colourful concoction overflowing with gemstones such as pink sapphires, black opals, emeralds, garnets and sapphires.
The final act, Dior à Versailles, Pièces Secrètes, is laden with intrigue. Unusual stones are paired with playful opening mechanisms that pay tribute to the idea of love tokens, such as the Vanité Emeraude necklace (pictured). Elsewhere, a diamond pivots on its axis to reveal a stone hidden beneath a stone – much like a concealed doorway that unexpectedly offers up a whole new vista.
Cachette Tiroir Diamant is a weighty rectangular ring topped with a pear-shaped diamond that calls to mind a tiny, intricate chest. It features a concealed compartment that slides out like a drawer. Meanwhile, miniature crowns top mismatched earrings cra ed from diamonds and green beryls; and are to be found hidden behind a white opal in the Cachette Opale Claire ring. Rubies, emeralds, blue and pink spinels and yellow diamonds are offset with white diamonds to create a collection that is as opulent as its namesake.
“I wanted to use chiaroscuro stones in shades of faded rose, reds verging on purple, iridescent moonstones and more intense sky blues,” says de Castellane. “The colours themselves seem a little mysterious, like antique silks.”