Home­com­ing Queen

Valérie Sa­muel, the grand­daugh­ter of Fred Paris founder Fred Sa­muel, tells Ter­ence Lim what it means to re­turn to the jew­ellery brand she grew up with

Singapore Tatler - - STYLE -

For valérie sa­muel, re­turn­ing to work for French jew­eller Fred Paris in 2017, after over 20 years away, is more than just an­other ca­reer move. The brand’s artis­tic di­rec­tor and vice pres­i­dent is, after all, the grand­daugh­ter of late founder, Fred Sa­muel. This makes her re­turn to the fold of the jew­ellery house very much a home­com­ing. “Fred Sa­muel was very much in­spired by the south of France, which he loved so much. Many of his cre­ations were in­spired by the French Riviera, which meant be­ing in­spired by the sun, the light and the sea,” says Valérie in an ex­clu­sive e-mail in­ter­view with Sin­ga­pore Tatler. “Thus, our col­lec­tions are full of light, moder­nity and sun­shine. I have been in­flu­enced by my grand­fa­ther and his vi­sion. I carry his val­ues be­cause I grew up with them.” While it is un­com­mon for a de­scen­dant to re­turn to their fam­ily busi­ness after its sale to a con­glom­er­ate, Valérie’s ap­point­ment in­di­cates that the LVMH group’s man­age­ment recog­nises the value of the cre­ative flair that the Samuels bring to the brand. (LVMH ac­quired the brand in 1995.) Take the Pain de Su­cre col­lec­tion, for in­stance. The signet ring with a gem­stone cabo­chon was taken from Fred Sa­muel’s archival draw­ings and re­launched in 1997 with an in­ter­change­able cen­tral stone. The col­lec­tion has since be­come a key pil­lar of the brand, un­der­lin­ing how for­ward-think­ing Fred Sa­muel’s de­signs were. As artis­tic di­rec­tor, Valérie plans to bring her own aes­thetic and flavour to Fred with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the brand’s DNA. She has been fo­cus­ing on the cur­rent col­lec­tions and breathes new life into them by in­tro­duc­ing “new sil­hou­ettes and styles”. Case in point: the 8°0 col­lec­tion, which used to be a bracelet-heavy range, now in­cludes neck­laces, rings and ear­rings. That said, she re­mains open to push­ing the en­ve­lope and cre­at­ing en­tirely new

col­lec­tions in the fu­ture as long as the cre­ations re­main in line with the brand DNA. “We strive to con­stantly bring moder­nity to our col­lec­tions and play with dif­fer­ent ways of wear­ing jew­ellery,” she says. “We will cap­i­talise on our rich her­itage and up­date our DNA un­der to­day’s trends, and al­ways keep a dar­ing and in­no­va­tive state of mind.” She shares more about her re­turn to Fred as well as the cur­rent con­sumer trends.

You started your ca­reer at Fred Paris be­fore ven­tur­ing to sev­eral other big-name brands. How does it feel to be back?

I left the house dur­ing its ac­qui­si­tion by the LVMH group in 1995 be­cause I wanted to stand on my own two feet and gain new pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence. But I have con­tin­ued to fol­low its de­vel­op­ment with great in­ter­est, es­pe­cially when [Do­minique] Wa­tine-ar­nault was pres­i­dent. My re­turn to Fred is a story of alchemy, en­counter and tim­ing. LVMH has of­fered me the op­por­tu­nity to write a new chap­ter for it.

What is your vi­sion for the brand?

My aim as artis­tic di­rec­tor is to build on Fred’s amaz­ing her­itage, and cre­ate new sto­ries and to­mor­row’s best­sellers. My grand­fa­ther had al­ways sup­ported me, and he im­parted his val­ues and pas­sion for jew­ellery to me. So I as­pire to per­pet­u­ate and evolve the house’s her­itage in line with its DNA, but im­bued with to­day’s spirit.

What key col­lec­tions are the most im­por­tant to you?

Our first key col­lec­tion is the iconic Force 10, which has been our hero prod­uct since it was cre­ated in 1966. The un­ex­pected mar­riage of a steel ca­ble with a gold buckle epit­o­mises the style of Fred: sin­gu­lar, pre­cious, lu­mi­nous, pow­er­ful and time­less. The Force 10 col­lec­tion is known for its moder­nity, serves as an in­fi­nite source of in­spi­ra­tion, and stands for cre­ative free­dom and en­ergy. I would also say that I like the new 8°0 col­lec­tion very much. It’s re­fined, el­e­gant and easy to wear, and gives one the pos­si­bil­ity of stack­ing mul­ti­ple bracelets and ear­rings with or with­out their dan­gly chains.

With your ex­pe­ri­ence in the watch and jew­ellery world, how have con­sumers’ tastes and ap­petite for jew­ellery evolved over the years?

Jew­ellery is the ul­ti­mate fash­ion ac­ces­sory with men and women want­ing unique prod­ucts, which suit them. For my de­signs, I talk to my cus­tomers and try to un­der­stand what they want. With the in­ter­change­able con­cept of Force 10, and the new de­signs of the 8°0 and Pain de Su­cre col­lec­tions, I have com­bined my cus­tomers’ needs with mod­ern de­signs to make ev­ery­day pieces that al­low them to match the stone of their rings or bracelets to the oc­ca­sion. The pieces are de­signed for our clients who can wear them to the of­fice, for a cock­tail event or on ca­sual week­ends.

BREAK NEW GROUND While the jew­ellery col­lec­tions in Fred Paris’ stable re­main largely the same, artis­tic di­rec­tor Valérie Sa­muel (below) has in­tro­duced more fun and con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the cur­rent pieces

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