Monday, September 29
Wednesday, September 24
From a drawing to a gouache and the actual realization of the final piece with the selection of gemstones, their cutting, setting, and polishing, the birth of an haute joaillerie piece is a succession of precise steps, each executed by different craftsmen. Their know-how, passed down through the generations, remains lesser known, often surrounded with secrecy because of the value attached to their work. Working with precious metals, the jeweler, for example, is responsible for the structure of the overall piece, while the setter will mount the stones, ensuring their stability, and the polisher will buff all the surfaces holding the jewel.
Spreading the appreciation of these skills as well as a general understanding of gemstones is the mission of L’École de Van Cleef & Arpels, which was set up nearly two years ago. Neither a professional school nor a gemological school, it is truly unique in its teaching approach offering a series of 15 courses, many with hands-on experience, which seek to present sometimes complex techniques in a very accessible way to the layman.
“This school is open to all. The classes have been envisioned as an initiation into the world of fine jewelry, which is often a secretive world, when it shouldn’t be,” explains Marie Vallanet-Delhom, president of L’École de Van Cleef & Arpels.
Sunday, August 24
In the late 19th Century, ‘affichomania’ was gripping Paris’ large billboards. The material opulence of the Belle Époque and the advancement of printing technology encouraged brands to advertise their products with striking, colorful visuals, and many reached out to talented artists like Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pierre Bonnard to illustrate their messages. Corporate advertising began to be discussed in newspapers, appreciated as works of art, and the designers fêted as artists of a new era.
By the mid-1890s, Art Nouveau was making its impact on this ‘Art of the Street’ under the leadership of Alphonse Mucha, who, in 1895, caused quite a stir with a poster advertising a new play with Sarah Bernhardt. The following year the Czech artist signed on exclusively with the Parisian company F. Champenois Imprimeur-Editeur to illustrate advertisements of a broad range of subjects, from railway services to consumer products such as confectionary, perfume, and champagne.
One of these first consumer goods posters was for Champagne Ruinart, for which he used the image of a beautiful woman with long flowing hair to send an enthralling message about the product she was representing.
Monday, June 2
Sunday, May 25
Saturday, May 10
Thursday, May 1
Mosaic art developed during Greco-Roman times with the purpose of creating decorative geometric and figurative designs on floors and walls. It was dramatically enhanced in the 8th century with the use of colored paste developed by Venetian glassmakers and then brought to a whole new level by Byzantine craftsmen, using gold leaf coated with protective glass in order to enhance the brilliance of the small cubes or tesserae—each carefully inclined to catch the light and create mesmerizing effects.
Giacomo Raffaeli is credited with inventing, in 18th century Rome, a new mixture of fused silica mixed with metallic oxides that could be spun and turned into thin rods, which could then be cut into tiny tesserae measuring less than one millimeter in diameter. The art of micro-mosaic was born and quickly embraced by others. One of the most notable early masters, Antonio Aguatti, further refined the art with a technical innovation that allowed for multiple hues to be combined in a single rod, thus significantly enhancing coloration possibilities.
Wednesday, April 23
Monday, April 7
Thursday, March 6
Monday, March 3
Ten years have passed since actress Maggie Cheung wore one of Qeelin’s first jewelry creations at the Cannes Film Festival when receiving the Best Actress Award for the movie “Clean.” At the time, the Franco-Chinese brand had just launched, and it was the kind of publicity a young brand aiming to reach an international audience could only dream of.
Wearing the Wulu (a gourd-shaped Chinese fruit), Cheung immediately raised Qeelin’s profile. “Maggie shares my passion for Chinese culture and she has been a good friend of mine for a long time. Back in the early 2000s, Chinese people looking to buy luxury were primarily shopping in the West and I remembered having a conversation with Maggie, telling her I really wanted to create something that the Chinese people would be proud of. She was really touched, I guess, and told me, ‘Next year I’m going to Cannes. Can I wear one of your jewelry designs?’ It was a really good start. In fact, it couldn’t have been better,” recalls creative director and co-founder, Dennis Chan.
Monday, February 10
Sunday, December 1
At Art Basel this past June, Mickalene Thomas’s Better Days, an art installation-cum-cocktail bar, offered visitors a disco-funk environment in which to unwind. Couches covered with textiles designed by the artist provided comfortable areas for meeting friends and enjoying the lineup of live music and guest DJ sets performed by the likes of Solange Knowles and auction honcho Simon de Pury. Thomas’s immersive experience, inspired by the parties hosted by her mother, fashion model Sandra Bush, extended her recent series exploring 1970s domestic interiors.
The installation was commissioned by Absolut Art Bureau, an entity set up in 2012 to handle the art activities of the Absolut Company, maker of Absolut Vodka. “With the artist bar, we give full carte blanche to the artist to develop this bar experience as a total art work,” explains Vadim Grigorian, global project leader for Absolut Art Bureau and marketing director of creativity and luxury at Pernod Ricard, Absolut’s parent company. “We’re not trying to impose anything on the artists. We try to find artists who are already interested in the topic, and these new works are an extension of their practice.”
Monday, September 30
Wednesday, May 29
Wednesday, May 8
Thursday, March 21
Friday, March 1
If you have been living on a desert island, you might have missed the results of Yayoi Kusama’s recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton. For everyone else, a tsunami of merchandise ranging from handbags and shoes to beach towels and tiny bikinis has been unveiled in recent months, all bearing Kusama’s well-known infinite polka-dot patterns. At the same time, the windows at Louis Vuitton’s stores worldwide were installed with the avant-garde Japanese artist’s emblematic sculptures, including her biomorphic “nerves” and the flowers of her “Eternal Blooming Flowers in My Mind” series.
Louis Vuitton has enjoyed a long and well-established relationship with artists, especially since Marc Jacobs took over as creative director in 1997 and reached out to artists like Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, and Richard Prince, among others. But the brand’s commitment to the arts runs much deeper than product tie-ins.