Medals, buttons, embroideries, aiguillettes… Claire Choisne, Creative Director of Maison Boucheron, revisits the couture heritage of Frédéric Boucheron, taking inspiration from ceremonial attire. She takes a new approach to the concept of ceremonial ornaments, metamorphosing them through the ingenious application of rock crystal and diamonds. This precious deconstruction brings to light 24 High Jewelry pieces that open the way to a new vision of couture.
Couture is central to the history of Boucheron. Louis Boucheron, the father of the Maison’s founder, worked as a draper in Paris beginning in 1817. By 1822, he had developed the business and began to specialize in silk, extending to lace – another rare, precious material – in 1837. Born in 1830, Frédéric Boucheron grew up in that setting, and it certainly influenced his approach to jewelry creation. Driven by the same pursuit of a delicate, supple adornment, he worked throughout the 19th century to craft gold and stones into elements inspired by couture. “Bows, knits, grosgrain, pompoms and lace abound in our archives, explains Claire Choisne. For this fourth edition of Histoire de Style, I decided to explore the theme of couture, without the fuss.”
To do that, Claire Choisne chose the prism of the ceremonial attire to offer a stylistic interpretation that is both bold and unprecedented. The paradox of this type of uniform appealed to the Maison’s Creative Director. At first sight, a ceremonial attire gives the impression of being stiff and radical. However, when taken piece-by-piece, it reveals an array of sophisticated ornaments. The Creation Studio kept that approach in designing the 24 pieces of this collection. “I decided to deconstruct the symbols of power to reappropriate them,” continues Claire Choisne. “This collection is designed like a precious kit that may be worn in a multitude of ways, choosing among various elements to create an individual style.”
Far from the flourishes inherent to the genre, The Power of Couture focuses on a uniformity of materials – rock crystal and diamonds –, for a monochrome theme that both tempers the baroque character of traditionally gold-tone decorations and visually lightens up the creations. “The difficulty in crafting this collection was to bring the characteristics of fabric to rigid gold and stones,” notes Claire Choisne. The Boucheron craftsmen managed to transfigure rock crystal and diamonds into jewelry sets as sophisticated and supple as the rarest silk fabrics. With the 24 designs of the The Power of Couture collection, Boucheron writes a new chapter in the history of High Jewelry and clothing, too, in which jewelry breaks free from material limitations to showcase its substance and to be worn in countless ways.
Medals, which are traditionally worn close to the heart on the left-hand side of a lapel, are reinterpreted through this circle of 15 pendants. They are uplifted to form a necklace in white gold, rock crystal and diamonds mingling finesse with force. To create the pennants that carry the medallions, the Maison’s artisans
shaped 15 crystal blocks – each cut to fit the piece – in such a way that their streaks perfectly resemble the grosgrain texture of a ribbon. After the medallions are cut, the craftsmen carve them, one by one, according to the principle of glyptic art, an age-old savoir-faire that consists of manually engraving crystal in high or low relief. Two medallions, edged with diamonds, may be detached from the necklace and worn as brooches on the lapel of a jacket. This piece is completed by a pair of clip earrings and two rings, including one set with a D VVS2 diamond of 2.04 carats.
This necklace is designed like a rock crystal knit, reinterpreting the chevron pattern of knitwear and reflecting the couture heritage of Boucheron. To achieve this, the texture of each material was individually sand-blasted and linked on nitinol cables (a nickel and titanium alloy) to form a five-strand choker. Interspersed with diamond-set links, this choker appears to have been knit in rock crystal and is decorated with a button paved with baguette diamonds, round diamonds, and rock crystal. It is adorned with a round D VVS2 diamond of 2.01 carats. A cuff bracelet set with a round DVVS1 diamond of 1.02 carats coordinates with it.
Epaulettes are historically used in couture to visually broaden the shoulders and accentuate the build. Here, they become allies of style. Claire Choisne revisits them in diamond spirals inspired by a diadem crafted in 1902 for Mary De Teck, Princess of Wales. In white gold paved with diamonds, these epaulettes are like no other: they can transform into a pair of bracelets. The design also appears on a modern white gold tiara set with round diamonds, and coordinates with matching ear pendants.
In this jewelry set, Claire Choisne pays tribute to the bow, an emblematic couture element that has stood the test of time. She creates a graphic reinterpretation with a play on texture and light, juxtaposing the matte effect of frosted rock crystal with the sparkle of diamonds to recreate the radiance of grosgrain ribbon. The necklace is made up of 435 frosted baguette-cut rock crystals, each individually hand-cut and fitted into the white gold framework. The edges and interior of the grosgrain bow are set with diamonds, and their sparkle is enhanced by a pear-shaped F VVS2 diamond of 4.05 carats. The necklace may be worn in six different ways and features a detachable section that may be worn as a bracelet. The bow can also transform into a brooch or shoulder adornment. Moreover, the central stone may be mounted on a ring as a solitaire. Two other rings complete the set. One is set with a pear-shaped D FL type IIA diamond of 5.16 carats, while the other is adorned with rock crystal and a pear-shaped D VVS1 diamond of 2.50 carats.
A ceremonial costume often features a high, rigid, tightly fitting collar that frames the head and symbolizes reason and instinct. Here, the collar is inspired by a tiara that the Maison crafted in the 1900s. Its design may be worn in a new way with a necklace resembling a lace of diamonds and rock crystal. This majestic piece offers three different possibilities. When worn as a whole, it combines a plastron with a choker, wreathing the face with a mesh of gold and light; but the elements may also be worn separately. A pair of earrings asserts the same lace design, highlighted by the presence of 662 round diamonds.
Like a precious punctuation of style, Claire Choisne has created a set of 15 white gold buttons set with diamonds and rock crystal. Fastened as hair ornaments, slipped into a buttonhole, or pinned to a necktie, each piece may be worn on its own or combined with others for endless arrangement possibilities. These contemporary buttons coordinate with a ring of which the body is crafted in frosted rock crystal set with a D VVS2 diamond of 4.63 carats, and a pair of ear pendants with an adjustable length.
The Boucheron studio reinterprets the aiguillette, the braided decoration that adorns ceremonial attires. In this version, the aiguillette is a braided white gold, rock crystal and diamond necklace that may be worn in many different ways. Two brooches and a frosted rock crystal bracelet may be detached from it and worn separately. Classical for its neo-Art Deco shape, yet unique for the way that its rock crystal is shaped, this necklace – set with a round E VVS2 diamond of 2.11 carats – splits into two brooches, including one that perfectly replicates the traditional drape of the aiguillette. The pendants are paved with diamonds which are covered with rock crystal to increase their sparkle. A coordinating pair of pendant earrings in diamond-paved
rock crystal may be worn long or short.
Here, branch embroideries are borrowed from ceremonial attires to take on the form of the fern, a plant that Frédéric Boucheron adored. Entirely paved with diamonds on a white gold frame, these two leaves appear to have been shaped by the wind. They may be worn as brooches to adorn a garment or transform into scintillating hair pieces thanks to an ingenious polyvalent fastening system. To complement the look, the studio created a white gold and diamond fern tiara, as well as two matching pairs of earrings. One pair is asymmetrical, combining a branch that rises along the ear with a pear-shaped E VVS2 diamond of 1.50 carats.