It’s a balmy mid-summer night in Paris. In an intimate salon, a woman dresses herself for the evening, spraying a faint but sensuous amount of First on her wrists and décolletage, mulling over what exquisite piece of fine jewellery to adorn her slinky black Saint Laurent number. Could it be the delicate three flower earrings from Van Cleef & Arpels’ Frivole collection — a minimal impression of both lightness and femininity, or maybe a gorgeous mystery set Papillon Tricis clip, or maybe she puts on the art deco masterpiece that is the Van Cleef & Arpels Zip Necklace?
It is a familiar imagined scene, one that is familiar to the select few that have had the enthralling opportunity to own and wear a heritage piece from Van Cleef & Arpels. The maison has been a leader in the world of fine-jewellery since opening its first boutique in Place Vendôme in 1906. Since then, Van Cleef & Arpels has produced some of the most iconic jewellery in the world, from the fluidity of its couture inspired creations like the zip necklace, to the miniature architecture of the craftsmanship of its trademark mystery setting technique.
Last March, Van Cleef & Arpels reopened its boutique in Harrods’ Fine Jewellery Room. One of the most iconic fine jewellery brands opening its doors in one of the world’s most iconic department stores, seems like a match made in the stars. Inspired by an elegant Parisian apartment, the boutique’s gorgeous art deco interiors recalls the symmetry and graphic design of several of the Maison’s pieces. The newly refurbished boutique is composed of a few intimate salons — each one decorated with utmost care. Handsome black oak sun ray marquetry draw your eyes to the floors, while the gleaming gold leaf ceiling shimmers from above. Feminine silk curtains, lush Art Deco sofas, and mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture add richness and warmth to the salons, while pictures of the Maison’s hand-drawn designs hang on the walls. Each design element, illuminating the Maison’s fine jewellery creations on display.
In celebration of the boutique’s reopening, Van Cleef & Arpels also unveils The Art of Clip Presentation. A series of rare heritage high jewellery clips that showcase the development of the maison’s Mains d’Or and savoir-faire in the over one hundred years since they opened their doors to the world. From then until now, the inspiration has remained consistent. Nature’s flowers, the elegance of ballerinas, and the mysterious allure of fairies — all presented here in remarkable clips of varying shapes and sizes. The perfect way to celebrate a new era in the history of both Van Cleef & Arpels and Harrods – a timely opening that feels almost serendipitous in 2018.
Speaking of serendipity, I recall a conversation with Van Cleef & Arpels Director of Heritage, Catherine Cariou back in 2016. When speaking about her most special discovery throughout her many years in the maison she says, “There are also sometimes very small discoveries, for example, we kept in our private collection a beautiful Juliet, and she was alone in the museum for several years, and I was looking for Romeo – and I found the Romeo clip one year ago. So now they are together in museum”— it feels like, with the case of the Van Cleef & Arpels’ new Harrods’ boutique, the opening is not only a fortuitous move by both, but also the result of the inner workings of fate.
Words Hannah Tan