A new exhibit has opened at the musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Five hundred pieces of haute joaillerie (oat zjo-eye-er-ee), or “high jewelry” inspired by haute couture created by Van Cleef & Arpels will be on display until February 10, 2013. In 1906, Alfred Van Cleef and his wife Estelle Arpels, both from prominent jewelry families, opened their own boutique on the place Vendôme. Other boutiques followed in the prominent resort towns of the era, Dinard, Deauville, and Nice.
The beautiful people needed several changes of clothes a day, and the jewels to go with them. Van Cleef & Arpels were inspired by those same fashions to create jewels that mimicked lace, bows, tassels, and even their famous zipper necklaces. Their invisible settings, perfected in the 1930s, allowed them to expand the limits of what was possible in fine jewelry. They created ties for women completely covered in jewels, which were as supple as if they’d been made of silk.
Another V&A innovation was jewels that could be transformed: long necklaces became chokers and bracelets, brooches became earrings and pendants. Most of all, they transformed materials that were by their essence heavy and hard into lighter than air fantasies worn by princesses (Grace), First ladies (Jackie), and a certain violet-eyed actress (Elizabeth).
- Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco Attends the Van Cleef & Arpels: L’Art de la Haute Joaillerie Exhibition. (royalcorrespondent.com)
- Van Cleef & Arpels Opens a Jewelry School (beadinggem.com)
- Haute Chicks (style.com)