René Lalique was a genius of art nouveau jewelry. His creations reflected sinuous naturalistic forms of plants, insects, and beautiful women with long, flowing hair. I saw an exhibit of his work in Paris a few years ago that was simply stunning. He also loved working in glass and often incorporated iridescent accents into the jewelry. Lalique designed jewelry for all the greatest names of his day – including actress Sarah Bernhardt and the wife of Woodrow Wilson – and perfume bottles for the most notable fragrance houses.
After mastering jewelry, Lalique switched to industrial design, including such diverse elements as elevator doors and the dining-room of the Normandie ocean liner. Today’s saying, “Il ne faut pas mettre tous ses œufs dans le même panier” (eel ne foe pa mehtruh too says euh don le mem pa-knee-eh) means exactly the same in French or in English, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The multi-talented Lalique would certainly espouse this point of view.
2011 is the 150th anniversary of Lalique’s birth and to mark the occasion, the firm is re-issuing some of his most stunning pieces. This spring, a new museum will open in Wingen-sur-Moder in Alsace, France, next to the factory where his glass is still produced. Three notable collections have been united under one roof. Yet another great excuse to visit France this year.