Magazine Humeur

A Walk Around Place Vendôme - Van Cleef & Arpels

Publié le 10 octobre 2011 par Michelgutsatz

Me+frame Debra Healy poursuit sa promenade Place Vendôme et Rue de la Paix en nous proposant une analyse de Van Cleef & Arpels. Cette marque prestigieuse - qui s'est construite avec une forte tradition d'innovation - se dote d'un directeur artistique, puise dans son héritage, et réinvente ses classiques. Une superbe réussite...

Vcalog Van Cleef & Arpels was fully acquired by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA in 2003. Since then it appears they have been applying many of the proven strategies they have learned with Cartier: appointing a creative director and turning back to their heritage. They appointed Nicolas Bos, who has been with Richemont since 1992, as vice president and worldwide creative director of Van Cleef (he is also president and chief executive officer of the jeweler’s Americas division). Van Cleef & Arpels recently mounted an exhibition at the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.  A joint website was created (link), analyzing their history and the evolution of the their style told through their stellar client's jewels, one iconic piece at a time. What is the brand's heritage? Alfred Van Cleef, and his two brothers-in-law Charles Arpels (1880-1951) and Julian Arpels (1884-1964) founded Van Cleef & Arpels in 1896. Both of the families had been in the gem business for several generations. In 1906 they open a shop at 22 Place Vendôme, where they are still located today. They were joined in 1912 by the youngest Arpels brother, Louis Arpels (1886-1976). Their history is a long line of innovations and patents:
  • In 1925 Van Cleef & Arpels won the Grand Prix at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs for the bracelet below . A distinguishing aspect of of all Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry is the focus on gem stones and flawless gem cutting.

    Image from the Jeweled Garden by Suzanne Tennenbaum and Janet Zapata
    Flexible bracelet, diamonds, buff cut rubies, and emeralds.
  • 1935: They pioneered and patented the Serti invisble or mystery setting.
  • Through out the 1930's they developed many innovative jewels like this necklace which can be worn with either side facing forward.
  • 1930's-1960's, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced a prescious metal ornmental evening clutch for women. it was complete with compartments and accessories, it was called La Minaudière, which was a trademark and a patent.
  • 1938: Another patent, the Passe Partout was an interchangeable jewelry concept. The gold gas-pipe (tobogas) chain with its clip-on ornaments one could wear it as a belt, a necklace, a bracelet, hat or hair ornaments, or dress clips.  The flowers were set with multi-colored sapphires and rubies.
  • Van Cleef & Arpels opened a New York branch twice, in 1929, and again permanently in 1939.
  • Through out the 1940's they developed a narrative-style with natural themed gem-set flowers, birds, ballerinas, and magical faeries.
  • During the 1950's Claude Arpels (1911-1990) traveled to India to acquire important stones. After Indian Independence Maharajas were eager to exchange gems for currency. He brought back dazzling gems, and antique Indian jewelry which influenced the development of a  lavish  Indian style. These evocative jewels were exotic, bold, and colorful.
  • In 1954 Van Cleef & Arpels was the first major jeweler to create a boutique next door to sell  a line of less exclusive jewels. The boutiques line continues to this day.
The new collection Nicolas Bos, said the new collection, Les Bals de Legende was inspired by a photo of Liz Taylor taken by Cecil Beaton in 1971 at the Proust Ball given by Baron and Baroness de Rothschild. She wore a major gold and diamond necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels, woven into her hair.
Cecil+beaton Van Cleef & Arpels new collection is debuting along with the publication of a beautiful book Bals: Legendary Costume Balls of the Twentieth Century’ by Nicholas Foulkes published by Assouline. Read about the  book and jewelry party here. The inspirations are the themes, personalities, and locations of these legendary balls. This evocative concept taps the yearning for a time of refined splendor and celebration. Guests attending these fancy dress balls dressed extravagantly,  they were resplendent and bejeweled. These were lavishly designed events, with dancers and music.   Attendance was by invitation-only.  The were famously photographed, and chronicled these balls are still talked about all of these years later. I can't recall another jewelry launch tied-in to the publication of a book where the book is about the source of the inspiration, and not the collection itself. What a brilliant source this is, one that is so identified with luxury and desire. A piece form the new collection "the kingfisher necklace" inspired by Baron Alexis de Redé’s ‘Le Bal Oriental’, 1969, which was one of the most extravagant parties ever given in Paris. The form of this jewel is that of a Chinese jewel. These jewels were made with actual kingfisher feathers. This Van Cleef & Arpels jewel is made with turquoise, diamonds, and pinkish-red spinels. Kf+VCA
Image: WWD The windows The current windows are an ultra-modern chinoiserie, with shocking pink manga-colors. They communicate a progressive global aesthetic that is very trendy, feminine, and a little playful. Window1
The new jewels are deeply enriched by  heritage of this house. Their fine jewelry competence is evident in the exquisite stones and flawless workmanship. Ba6
Emerald and diamond beads, with diamond set elements, in this multi-strand oriental style necklace, which was inspired by  the Le Bal Oriental. Bal8
Diamond necklace with round, calibré-cut diamonds, and a diamond briolette drop. Bal11
An elegant diamond necklace which evokes a lace collar, with  tassels. This style necklace taps deeply into the the heritage. The opulence of this new collection is heralding a new age of elegance. "With regard to jewelry, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels were top performers during the year", said  Richard Lepeu, deputy ceo of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, “a very broad base of merchandise and price points were driving sales in the jewelry division overall". He added, however, that sales of the ultrahigh-end items — those costing more than $1 million — were “less buoyant.” WWD May 19, 2011 This comment was made before the debut of the new collection, which, I imagine, will prove that the magic of Van Cleef & Arpels is ever present.

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