Despite the dazzling fashion and glittering jewels on offer, Couture Week in Paris was a decidedly chilly affair this season, as journalists battled freezing temperatures in the French capital. But the salons above the Boucheron flagship on Place Vendôme were lit from within, when Creative Director Claire Choisne presented her latest high jewelry collection to selected member of the press over tea and petit-fours. Cape clips became double pins, while necklaces turned into brooches before our eyes, as one by one, models wearing simple, 1960s-inspired coordinating color-block outfits showcased each transformable piece from a unisex collection that felt fresh and contemporary, despite its antique inspiration.
Two years in development, the Histoire de Style, Like a Queen collection is entirely based on a photograph in the Maison’s archives of a diamond and aquamarine double-clip brooch made by Louis Boucheron. Bought in London in 1937 by the Duke of Kent, the brooch passed to Queen Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday as a gift from her father, King George, and was worn at key milestones throughout her life. Said to be one of her favourite pieces of jewelry in the Royal collection, it was chosen to be worn in the last official portrait of the Queen, taken by Ranald Mackechnie to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
“Three years ago, when I started looking for inspiration for this collection in the Boucheron archives, I couldn’t get that Art Deco double clip brooch out of my mind,” explains Choisne. The original brooch is conserved in the Royal Collection, and all that remains in the Maison’s archives, is a photograph. Nevertheless, it was enough to inspire the Maison’s creative director: “the severity and geometry of the Art Deco design, tempered by the softness and light blue hue of the aquamarines fascinated me. I was also touched by the sentimental value of this double clip.”
The original piece itself can be worn as a single clip, or split into two separate brooches, which is how Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II chose to wear it in her final portrait. Choisne also intends the pieces in the new collection to be worn multiple ways: “we wanted these 18 variations to reflect the ease with which the original was worn, since the two clips may be attached in various ways, on their own or together. We also wanted the collection to convey the elegance distinctive of this Art Deco piece.”
Seven suites of jewelry, each developed around a separate color, combine to make up the collection, an idea rooted in the Queen’s own bright outfit choices. A mesmerising six-carat Sri Lankan sapphire surrounded by diamonds makes for a punchy pinkie ring, while cherry red Mozambique rubies combine in an elegant necklace, whose centrepiece can be removed to be worn as a brooch. Elsewhere, lacquer is used to intensify color and three color-block diamond clips can be worn as earcuffs, lapel clips or in the hair, reflecting the house’s historically hard-working approach to high jewelry.
The Frosty White chapter includes a four-strand necklace with two clips based on the original brooch, that can be worn an impressive six different ways. More than 1,000 baguette and round diamonds are overlaid with rock crystal at key points, a technique pioneered by Frédéric Boucheron: “the rock crystal blurs the pavé to make it lighter and less flashy, balancing the sharpness of the Art Deco shapes” says Choisne. The coordinating horizontal ring, can be worn across three fingers or opened and its central solitaire removed to be worn alone.
Male models at the presentation cut dashing figures in diamond brooches, and according to the house, “tuxedo clips are becoming more common, we’re proposing unisex items and they are gaining traction,” says Choisne of the Maison’s contemporary clientele. Indeed, Like a Queen offers a thoroughly modern take on high jewelry, translated into wearable pieces inspired by an icon of the archives, and the distinctive elegance of its most famous wearer.
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