EXCLUSIVE: Louis Vuitton Unveils Its First High Jewelry Tiara, Monogram Star cut Diamond and More


PARIS — After the billion-year timeframe that shaped the Earth and its treasures, a century’s worth of seismic shifts inspired Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of watches and jewelry Francesca Amfitheatrof.

And the 100-piece opening chapter of the “Awakened Hands, Awakened Minds” high jewelry collection is shaking things up in its own right, with firsts that include fully traceable rubies, a yellow LV Monogram Star cut diamond and a tiara.

For the 11 themes unveiled Wednesday in Saint-Tropez, Amfitheatrof explored the 100 or so years that followed the French Revolution and end with the 1901 Universal Exposition.

“It was such an interesting time in France. Post Revolution, the abolition of the guilds allowed ateliers the freedom to work with anyone and therefore there’s this boom in creation [among] artisans,” she told WWD in an exclusive interview. “In a way, luxury is born and [becomes] available to whoever can afford it.”

The collection is articulated in two parts roughly covering five decades each, with Amfitheatrof alighting on traditional crafts, technological innovations from that era and the Eiffel Tower.

Bridging the gap is house founder Louis Vuitton, who opened his business in 1854.

“He was bang in the middle of it, one hand on the craftsmanship and the other on the expansion,” she continued. “There’s 50 years of incredible craftsmanship and [he] arrives in Paris when this is happening, setting up the company in the middle of the century because he also sees there’s this innovation, this awakening, this beginning of what becomes modern.”

Handcrafts inform the initial four themes, starting with Splendeur, where floral motifs with ruby centers and clusters of closed set diamonds are intricately layered and laid out to evoke carved woodwork.

Echoing the changes brought by artificial light — another idea underpinning Amfitheatrof’s designs — the 143 carats of juicy Mozambique gemstones in a rosy red close to prized, now-exhausted, Burmese ruby veins become near-fluorescent with a jeweler’s flashlight. More than 50 of them in cushion, pear, oval and octagonal cuts are used for a transformable high-collar necklace.

Most importantly, they are the first colored gemstones to come with an Aura blockchain-backed mine-to-jewelry certificate, thanks to a partnership between the Fura mine and the French luxury house.

The first Vuitton high jewelry tiara is the centerpiece of the Elegance set, inspired by the trembleuse jewelry technique, which sees motifs shimmying with the slightest movement.

“It’s such a French innovation, this idea that your diamonds tremble in the candlelight and seduce your viewers,” said Amfitheatrof, who gave it a novel spin through a mosaic of triangular shapes. “I thought it was a just a great, gentle way to modernize a very old technique [to] make it contemporary and part of the conversation today.”

Braiding and textile crafts are revisited in metal and gems for the six pieces billed Seduction. Its highlight is a collar necklace nodding to ribbons laced into an intricate pattern that required 4,276 hours, 590 elements and 8,000 stones — including a 12.92-carat octagonal step-cut Zambian emerald.

Also part of the set is a chatelaine-style necklace that hides a watch, developed in collaboration with the master watchmakers of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. Another timepiece hides under the weaving-inspired rounded bracelet dressed in a mosaic of diamonds and emeralds in the Phenomenal theme.

Then comes the second part, with seven themes representing the century’s advancements in science, engineering and technology.

A then-groundbreaking experiment proving the Earth’s rotation — still on display in Paris’ Panthéon monument — inspired the asymmetrical layering in the Gravité necklace, featuring three royal blue sapphires from Kashmir.

Optimisme, with its interlocking yellow gold and platinum construction mimicking folded metal to catch the light, embodies the optimistic, daring and playful spirit of the time, a major takeaway of the century’s innovations, according to Amfitheatrof.

Vision had the studio teams looking to railway tracks; sharply detailed repeating motifs in the Perception and Frequence designs hinted at mechanization.

And then there’s Victoire, which owes its volumes and structures to Paris’ ultimate symbol: the Eiffel Tower.

“I’m sure that people gasped at first when they saw [it],” Amfitheatrof said. “That’s something that is important to us: bringing that slight edge to high jewelry. You have to challenge yourself [as well as] our supporters, viewers and clients.”

Cue the necklace reaches down in a deep V that looks like a sketch of the tower hanging downward from the neck — with a removable 15-carat flower-cut diamond that can be worn on a ring.  

In a further nod to her idea of beauty and engineering coming hand in hand is the use of the first yellow LV Monogram Star cut diamond on another collar necklace in the theme. “It is again this marriage of discovery, engineering and technology that allows us to [achieve] this cut today,” she added.

House ambassador Ana de Armas, who will soon star in the collection’s campaign, was among the first to take in the pieces and lauded Amfitheatrof’s “vivid, almost magical storytelling.”

“Discovering ‘Awakened Hands, Awakened Minds,’ I was captured not just by the story of 19th-century Paris but by the size of the jewels — each one like a world of its own,” the actress told WWD in an email.

And there is no stone that carries a bigger story in this collection than the Cœur de Paris, a 56.23-carat fancy deep brown-pink diamond in a square emerald shape best known as an Asscher cut. Its hue can go from pink to peach, depending on natural or artificial lighting.

Hailing from a mine in Borneo, one of the oldest diamond sources in the world, it’s a rare stone that Amfitheatrof felt deserved to “live and breathe and be” even when set at the heart of the eponymous masterpiece necklace.

But rather than a too-imposing design, she went for the unusual perspective of the Eiffel Tower seen from below, a design she described as having lightness and energy. The diamond takes pride of place in a rose gold structure that can be detached from the river necklace and worn as a brooch.

“The stone had such incredible cut that it was really important to let that live and breathe and be,” Amfitheatrof said.



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