Those already familiar with the history of this French brand will probably already have realised what 26 invokes. If, however, this number doesn’t yet speak to you, I shall tell you what it refers to – with pleasure. 26 is the house number on Place Vendôme where, in the Hôtel de Nocé, the flagship Boucheron boutique was located, which formerly had been the family home.
It was there that in 1893 Frédéric Boucheron moved, from the Palais Royal, to open the doors of a boutique which invited intrigued onlookers to glimpse at as they passed by on the street. Incidentally, the structure of the square itself was highly advantages, as the sun shone in through the window all day long, making the jewellery behind the panes sparkle and beckoning passers-by to look inside. This led Boucheron to become the first jewellery house in the most prestigious commercial square of Paris. The family-run business was passed down generation to generation, from Frédéric to Louis, Louis to Gérard, Gérard to Alain, but the jewellery boutique’s base has not changed. Its location at 26 Place Vendôme remains the same to this day. Only, the shop floors have spread out, and above them are studios for the house’s designers, jewellery workshops and archives.
This year, the brand has opened a third floor for visitors, who came to an exclusive showing of a new line of High Jewellery. The event was organised by Olivier Saillard, Director of the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion in Paris, who has been curator for various exhibitions, from Balenciaga to Sonia Rykiel.
The presentation was as much one of conceptual and performance art as one of High Jewellery, where hints of romance and sensuality were rife as graceful women and men configured before spectators as living sculptures. They froze in each others arms, displaying the glittering jewels on their necks, wrists ears and fingers. After the unusual display of the jewellery on show, guests were invited to rooms where the items in the 26 Vendôme collection were thematically showcased. The collection has 3 themes: Nature Triomphante, Architecture Inspirée and Porté Couture, and each is radically different from the other. The first is an ode to nature, a theme reflected in many of house’s works dating all the way back from its 19th-century origins to the present day. In this portion of the collection among many jewels there are several rings with novel animals, a jewelled set with orchids, and a watch with an ear of wheat.
The second mini-collection, Architecture Inspirée, sings with abstract geometry and perfect Art Deco lines – all integral parts of architecture. Or rather, they are integral parts of the private residence at the Palais Royal where Frédéric and Gabriel Boucheron started their business. And the final part of 26 Vendôme is Porté Couture, pieces which combine elements of High Fashion, bows and drapery woven together from gemstones. This theme was specifically chosen because Frédéric’s parents were drapers and he grew up surrounded by fabrics.
Despite the fact that all the items in the collection are incredibly beautiful, in each sub-collection there is a key piece which is especially difficult to design and execute. For example, the necklace, earrings and ring with the orchids is a set that proves a true masterpiece from 219-carat rock crystal inlaid with colourless diamonds. In the centrepiece of the necklace, at the precise point of the neckline, descending down a ribbon of diamond, rests a large orchid flower. At the heart of the flower an extraordinary 20-carat yellow diamond shaped like teardrop sparkles.
Another totally unforgettable necklace was the “key of the line devoted to architecture. On a necklace whose geometric patterns are made from onyx, mother-of-pearl, moonstone and yellow sapphires, four rock crystal pendants are suspended (three at the front and one at the back) inside of which is a complex configuration of birds sitting on branches. And one piece of jewellery deserving of special attention is a perfect marriage between High Fashion and High Jewellery: created by house’s designers, a cape of minimalist peacock feathers made entirely of gold, with its clasp decorated with an 81-carat citrine pendant. In the 26 Vendôme collection, the Director of Design, Claire Choisne, successfully reflects the spirit of Boucheron and once again demonstrates its impeccable taste and sense of style through High Jewellery.