There are many inspirations that go into making jewellery. It is rare that jewellery requires the life of a woman as its starting point. Louis Vuitton’s latest collection, Bravery is just as daring as its name implies. It celebrates the bicentenary celebration of his birth and is a richly illustrated biography of the founder, one of the most luxurious houses in the world.
Francesca Amfitheatrof is Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for watches and jewellery. She is the brain behind the collection. She spent two years digging through the archives of the house to find the visionary behind the brand. His inventions such as the stackable canvas trunk (1858), won him royal patronage and awards.
His innovations such as the tumbler lock, and the instantly recognizable LV emblem, allowed him to shape what we now consider luxury.
Amfitheatrof says that Louis Vuitton was a true innovator and pioneer who created a path for understanding the world of travel, and how it would evolve over time. He is credited with creating the visionary strength that has remained the brand’s guiding star: “He trailblazed the path that we now take as a given.”
Eight chapters in the collection chart Vuitton’s chronological life. It starts with La Constellation d’Hercule. This is named after the constellations under which he was born in 1821 in rural Jura, eastern France. Each chapter is built on the foundation of a necklace, and the first chapter is no exception.
The house’s unique cuts include scattered diamond stars. This is a tribute to Louis’s famous Monogram, which was created by Georges. This result is a bib necklace that’s red-carpet-ready.
Louis Vuitton’s La Fleche necklace is a tribute to its founder’s determination to reach Paris in sapphires and rubies, as well as diamonds.
Vuitton lost his mother when he was just 10 years old. He fled his stepmother’s wickedness at 13 as a sign of his strength and determination. He travelled 245 miles to Paris and it took him three years. His progress was slowed by the skills he learned along the way.
La Fleche is a graphic necklace that features a thick coiled rope made of sapphires and diamonds. It points into the famous V banner, which Amfitheatrof says represents “the magnetic force that draws him towards Paris.” The piece, which is centered on a stunning blue sapphire and is a symbol of the Haute jewellery aesthetic she and the Maison are creating, is dynamic, bold, and puts a strong emphasis on modernity.
The designer says this is a reflection of the fact that women are now buying high-end jewellery for themselves, rather than their wives. She explains that women are increasingly demanding jewellery they can wear. It could be a necklace that can be worn in many different ways or one that stands out and grabs attention. Amfitheatrof says that the necklace is fun, young, and has a lot of attitudes.
L’Aventure is the chapter that features a bold necklace in emeralds and alternating baguette and round diamonds. The set also includes a ring featuring a 2.97-carat emerald as well as 68 custom-cut diamonds.
Vuitton, who had made a name in the respected art box-making under Monsieur Marechal during his years in Paris, was named personal box-maker for Empress Eugenie De Montijo in 1854. His products were innovative and of high quality, which won him an international clientele.
Amfitheatrof says that Amfitheatrof was a constant innovator, but always from a practical perspective. He also maintained a timeless appeal with his pared-down elegance.
David Ferrua photographed the Trailblazer necklace with purple and pink sapphires as well as diamonds for the August 2021 issue of Vogue. DAVID FERRUA
The Trailblazer necklace in the collection pays tribute to Louis Vuitton’s central role at the house. The elegant showpiece evolves from a V-shaped V of white diamonds on the one side to a stunning swathe of sapphires that range from purples and pinks to create “a beautiful transition of tonality as they wrap around my neck”.
It took three years for sapphires with the same quality and brilliance to be accumulated, including one stash Amfitheatrof found while stone-hunting at Tucson Gem Show.
It was a challenge to organize the various shapes and sizes of the sapphires to form a perfect mosaic that flows effortlessly across her collarbone. She says, “That play between light and that attention towards detail is high jewellery for me.”
The necklace is also a symbol of the innovative and single-minded path the founder of the house set and continues to follow. She says, “He remains our star.” “We are who we are, and that allows us to keep pushing the boundaries.”
These earrings are inspired by the Constellation d’Hercule chapter in opal and tanzanite. They also feature LV Monogram star-cut or flower-cut diamonds.
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