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19 October 2016

Exercises in couture

Jewelry has always sought to replicate fabric and its flexibility and structure with the toughest materials available: gold and diamonds.

Few and far between are collections that make no refer to this classic theme of couture. The results subvert the ideas of buttons and trim, bring the graceful movement of ribbons and silk thread, and borrow influences from the corset and knitwear. Solange Azagury-Partridge creates knitted gold belts; Fanourakis, necklaces like grosgrain ribbons; Boucheron, a cape of gold chains that closes with a citrine button; and Selim Mouzannar, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier produce tassels and fringes. The names of jewelry pieces and collections equally evoke this craze, like “Silk” by Messika and “Couture Précieuse” from Piaget.

In Van Cleef & Arpels’ archives, this theme can be found in all shapes and forms, from a brooch featuring a silk pocket with ribbons through to the iconic “Zip” necklace. In gold and diamonds, its zipper slides with ease to close the necklace and transform it into a bracelet. A real technical feat! This transmutation of a dress into a jewelry piece appears even more natural for jewelers with origins in haute couture houses. Chanel for example, features the ribbon and quilting. Victoire de Castellane, artistic director of Christian Dior jewelry, harks back to the fashion designer’s work of the 1950’s with its mousseline, ruffles, taffeta and pleated organza. On the underside, the jewelry pieces appear as if lined with gold lace.

Lace, a metaphor of femininity, perfectly demonstrates the craftsmen and women’s dexterity. In this vein, pieces from Buccellati excel at reproducing the extreme delicacy of the interlacing, produced by the painstaking techniques of openwork, chasing and the engraving of the flat surfaces of yellow, pink and white gold set with diamonds. Their arabesques are reminiscent of the most beautiful Renaissance lace made in Venice, Bruges or Calais. But has this Italian house met its match? Hind Hariri, founder and creator of the HRH brand has developed a gold lace glove, almost as supple as silk from Bruges. It took her years to develop the gold thread that was then entrusted to a traditional bobbin lace-maker. The result is breathtaking!

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