BOUCHERON: FROM ART DECO TO CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
On the list of exclusive luxury designers throughout the world, Boucheron has occupied a very high rank since the beginning of the 20th century, spanning multiple design eras, notably Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and Second Empire styles.
Starting with a modest capital and a small stock of jewelry, Boucheron rapidly attracted the attention of Parisian trendsetters. This was achieved by virtue of Boucheron’s innovative style and the excellence of his designs, the quality of which has always been admired by experts throughout the eras.
Boucheron’s fascination for India and Asia and inspired him to create innumerable pieces and collections of unique, avant-garde nature dedicated to cultures around the world. His lace-like gold pieces embellished with diamonds, the engraved diamonds which continue to be uncommon and considered a novelty even today, were amongst the exquisite collections which were admired even by his most accomplished competitors like Andre Massin, who described Boucheron’s pieces ‘of faultless craftsmanship’.
Nine years after opening his small shop in the year 1858, Frederic Boucheron. Won his first Gold Medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition, an a year later, in 1878, a Grand Prix for a foliage-themed necklace swathed in sapphires and diamonds, and boasting a central sapphire of 159cts.
In 1893 Boucheron acquired a mansion previously owned by the Contesse de Castiglione, located at 26 Place Vendome, converting the square into a center of Parisian luxury. as the epicenter of Parisian luxury. Legend has it that he chose the sunniest corner of the square because he believed that ‘the diamonds in the windows would sparkle all the more brilliantly’.
While the Parisian headquarters of Boucheron remain at the same location today, four generations of the Boucheron family have helped the brand become a worldwide leader in the High Jewelry market, and have expanded their territory throughout the globe with 34 luxury boutiques.
Boucheron’s career was founded during the era of Napoleon; hence the important impact of Napoleon’s treasures brought back from his campaigns. Upon Boucheron’s earlier designs, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman sculptures and artifacts along with articles from Pompeii and Cuvac, combined with the influence of Egyptian culture due to the creation of the Suez Canal served as Boucheron’s sources of inspiration to create his unprecedented luxury and exotic pieces of jewelry demanded by the Parisian High Society. Such replication was referred to as the Revivalist Style of which Boucheron became a master.
A great deal of Boucheron’s early reputation can be attributed to the lavish weddings whose brides, grooms, and attendants were blanketed in jewels created by Boucheron. One of these events was the 1893 marriage of King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria to Princess Marie-Louise of Bourbon-Parma: which was an indication of the royal patronage Boucheron would later enjoy, including Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.
The Art Nouveau style which replaced the Revivalist had its distinct source of inspiration, namely ‘the poetry of nature’. Boucheron excelled in creating necklaces and tiaras with delicate and sensual features to represent the new style, explored the plique-a-jour enamel technique and ingeniously combined gold with steel ‘a technique used by armories’ to create original pieces of jewelry. At the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris which marked the peak of the Art Nouveau movement, Boucheron was awarded both the Grand Prix and the Gold Medal for his avant-garde designs.
During the 1930’s and 40’s, Boucheron pioneered the ‘detachable dress clips’ with the versatility to be worn separately or combined into a single piece, and during the Retro era, Boucheron’s designs featured the contemporary three-dimensional motifs, flexible chains, and tassels.
Amongst royal patrons of Boucheron have been: Maharajah Sir Bhupindar Singh of Patiala, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Czar Alexander III, Queen Farida of Egypt, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Queen Elizabeth the II as well as affluent American families including the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers and the Kennedy’s.
East meets West in ‘Dralion,’ a necklace depicting a dragon and a lion which blend to form a unique creature rendered in orange and yellow sapphires, rubies, diamonds and emeralds set in yellow gold. Dralion stands for the quest for harmony, and can be worn as a brooch. ‘Criss Angel Believe’ is swathed in sapphires, with a black prince peering through rabbit ears, bows and petticoat flounces. The purple drop sapphires, yellow, pink and purple sapphires and rubies are set in blackened gold.
Montreal is the home of Cirque du Soleil, founded there in 1975 by Guy Laliberte. To celebrate the troupe’s 25th anniversary, Laliberte cooperated with Jean-Christophe Bedoss, the Chief Executive of Boucheron, to organize the Exhibition. The necklaces on view are a triumph of time and talent with finite attention to detail. The complicated, asymmetrical and whimsical forms also push the boundaries of fine jewelry design. It is a remarkable way to honor the group that revolutionized and conceptualized ‘Cirque du Soleil’ having molded its present day image.