Some say it’s a vibration, others a stirring of the soul — however a creation that’s imbued with goals and invested with hundreds of hours of crafting can definitely provoke an otherworldly feeling. Typically with excessive jewelry — the celebrated ‘couture’ aspect that for hundreds of years has catered to royalty, society and high-fashion, and the place a chunk can value something from tens of hundreds to a number of million — the thoughts turns to opulent settings and formal costume codes.
But not so with Spirit, Louis Vuitton’s new ode to power, freedom and future. The new assortment, which speaks to “what lies within and what manifests without”, spanning legendary spirit animals and a sort of modern-day metamorphosis, triggers a strong urge to interrupt out; to enterprise past; to openly rock up carrying it someplace fully surprising, maybe even to only dance across the kitchen.
Breaking out is precisely what the maison did only a decade in the past, channelling its well-known sense of journey into new territory with a Paris excessive jewelry atelier and gem-buying division, and turning into the upstart in a long-established, rarefied discipline dominated by names equivalent to Bulgari, Cartier and Chaumet. It would have been simple to tread a well-worn route, however the home set its personal compass — and whereas it’s nonetheless early days, the technique of subversive savoir-faire has crystallised superbly on this 12 months’s bold and at instances audacious 150-piece assortment.
It’s all about an angle that informs the aesthetics, explains Francesca Amfitheatrof, the maison’s swish and energetic inventive director of watches and jewelry, who’s 4 years and 4 collections into her tenure. The art-trained designer, whose early work was proven in London’s White Cube gallery, was Tiffany’s first feminine design director from 2013 to 2017, earlier than her appointment at Louis Vuitton in 2018. “There are maisons and brands that have been doing this for hundreds of years, and we come in, you know, all excited . . . We know we’re the babies in the high jewellery world, and you can’t just walk in with the finance and demand to change the landscape — it takes time. But because we don’t have these hundreds of years of history, we have the freedom to be bold. We don’t have to worry whether we’re upsetting preconceived ideas: we can come out of the gate with no weight on our shoulders.”
The designer, who’s feasting on items from the completed assortment in her workplace beside the Pont Neuf, couldn’t be clearer about her mission: “Amazing, beautiful things were made in the past — but there’s no point, to me, in reproducing them now. Everything we make should have a point of difference to what’s gone before.”
Graphic, personality-led design and left-field inspirations apart, a sample of twisting high-jewellery norms is rising: sourcing essential scene-setting rubies from Africa as a substitute of Myanmar; and loading a number of essential, colored stones, which may have made up a number of jewels, into staggering one-off items. “I felt strongly that there should be only one of these treasures — as unique and individual as the person who wears it,” she says of these items. “It’s hard to tell powerful people, ‘It’s sold, you’ll have to wait for next year’, but that’s a choice we made”. There are additionally modern two-finger rings, up-the-ear-chain earrings and playful riffs on the traditional high-jewellery secure — assume cuff bracelets that appear to be a shirt peeking out, full with a custom-cut LV monogram starcut diamond “cufflink”.
While Amfitheatrof says Louis Vuitton continues to be a “young” participant within the jewelry class, the home isn’t coy about its intentions: definitely, business veterans’ ears pricked up when in late 2019 it paid an undisclosed sum for the 1,758-carat Sewelo diamond, present in Botswana, the biggest stone mined because the Cullinan diamond in 1905. While the stone had inclusions that might dictate the way it was minimize, the home isn’t being timid about innovating in that space, both, regardless of the complexities — certainly it already has two patented cuts based mostly across the monogram’s iconic flowers.
The new assortment, at instances fantastical and infrequently complicated — “We do make challenging pieces, and I drive our ateliers mad sometimes, especially about the custom-cut stones, which are so expensive and difficult to do,” says Amfitheatrof — is approachable and brilliantly wearable. “Yes, they might have a d-flawless 8.7-carat diamond, but many of these pieces you can wear all the time if you wanted to. They should be worn as much as possible — especially now.” This mind-set has parallels with different homes together with Boucheron: its course below Claire Choisne sees a modernity and a lightness of coronary heart within the excessive jewelry that makes the items extra wearable.
Many of the brand new items incorporate alternating components of yellow and white gold to “soften” the showiness of the white, and there are magnificent but minimally mounted rings, with tsavorites, rubies or sapphires. Even the convertible items — one of the lavish traditions of old-world excessive jewelry — are executed with such slick precision that there’s an ease, a casualness, so it seems virtually like switching stones between rings and necklaces and changing high-octane necklaces to new lengths is a cool idea that’s simply been invented.
“The codes are one of the things that will make these pieces instantly recognisable and timeless,” says Amitheatrof, “and I feel we’re on a roll.” The signature minimal strains are there, however revving up in locations to create an intricate interaction of angles, with deep Vs dancing all through. They’re enhanced by slender emerald cuts — even the rubies, which is exceedingly uncommon — and triangle-cut diamonds, which punctuate drop earrings, pave latticework paths in cocktail rings and bracelets, and type spiky pyramids to present a cool edge to “classic” button studs. Meanwhile the chevron “arrow” form that “pointed the young Louis Vuitton’s way to Paris” in final 12 months’s Bravery assortment has now discovered a house on collarbones and because the pedestal of show-stopping diamond rings.
Geometry is tempered with a type of supercharged sensuality, and in some circumstances a literal softness: the gold Radiant “protective armour” necklace, constructed from tiny gold triangular scales and boasting a spectacular spessartite garnet, was impressed by the Louis Vuitton trunk and the power of scaled creatures, however it sits on the throat, silky-smooth and strokeable — like a second pores and skin.
What unites the sharp and the comfortable, the arrows and the curves, is a way of perpetual movement: there are wing particulars aplenty, however most of the items even have a refined rippling or mild flipping part — one chapter of the gathering performs with an optical phantasm, giving the sense that the steel is popping or swirling like a ribbon. It all alludes to the theme of transformation, whereas including fluidity and luxury on the pores and skin.
“It’s super-important to look at ease,” says Amfitheatrof. “High jewellery shouldn’t wear you, or age you. It takes poise to carry it, yes, but mostly it’s about character, spirit.”
Photographer: Thomas Chene/SevenSix; Stylist: Marine Chaumien; Talent: Sheryl Bennett @Marilyn Agency; Hair and Make-up: Sophea Yen
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