Since the opening of its first U.S. boutique in New York in 1939, Van Cleef & Arpels has captivated Americans from coast to coast with its bounty of inspired creations. Drawn by the infinite beauty of the West and the stylishly casual clientele, the Paris-based Maison opened its first boutique there in 1970. The Beverly Hills boutique marked a new chapter in Van Cleef & Arpels’ history in America.
From the picturesque waters of the Pacific to the majestic landscapes, California has been a wealth of inspiration for Van Cleef & Arpels. The Maison even created an entire High Jewelry collection, called California Reverie, based on the diverse scenery and breathtaking nature unique to the Golden State. For 45 years, Van Cleef & Arpels has attracted California dreamers and West Coast dwellers alike to its Beverly Hills store. To honor such a momentous anniversary, the Maison is celebrating with an extraordinary exhibition in the boutique from now until March 2nd, 2016.
Both vintage pieces and contemporary creations are displayed together, showing the extraordinary evolution of the Maison’s unparalleled style. Separated into four unique themes – Nature, Couture, Exoticism, and Ballerinas – the presentation takes visitors on a curated journey through the archives of Van Cleef & Arpels, with jewels on loan from the Maison’s collection as well as from private collectors.
The flora and fauna of Mother Nature remains an ever present theme for the Maison’s oeuvre. From the Roses bracelet and brooch that won Van Cleef & Arpels the Grand Prize at the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in 1925 to the highly collectible ‘La Boutique’ animal clips, the Maison masterfully captures the inimitable beauty of nature in its jewelry. Demonstrating this essential theme of endless inspiration are jewels designed as blooming flowers, fluttering butterflies, and ethereal birds in flight – to name just a few. A major highlight from this section is the Reine-Margeuerites suite, circa 1990-1993, formerly in the collection of Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
Paris is synonymous with couture, so it is only natural that the world of high fashion influence the realm of high jewelry. Both are dedicated to the utmost skill in their respective crafts, though the two have often overlapped. During the Art Deco period, Van Cleef & Arpels began fashioning evening purses with sparkling gems and precious metals, which would later become the innovative Miaudière. Every detail of Haute Couture presented a fresh idea for the Maison’s designers, from intricate laces that would be transformed into exquisitely delicate gold lacework jewels to the endless bows and tassels in the Maison’s designs.
However, no element of couture is more iconic than the zipper. Van Cleef & Arpels credits the idea to the Duchess of Windsor, who asked Renée Puissant, the Maison’s artistic director from 1926 to 1942 and daughter of Alfred Van Cleef, to create a jewel inspired by the zip fastener in 1938. The result, which took more than a decade to develop, was the ‘Zip’ necklace – a highly flexible necklace that captured the spirit of the ‘Couture’ style of the 1950’s and brilliantly linked ‘Haute Couture’ and ‘Haute Joaillerie’. Throughout the 1950’s, the Maison designed a limited number of ‘Zip’ necklaces in yellow gold decorated with diamonds or colored stones, and it has recently reintroduced the ‘Zip’ necklace in one-of-a-kind designs using a colorful palette of gems. The exhibition includes a Zip necklace created in 2012 that incorporated jade, turquoise, chrysoprase and diamonds in white gold.
Founded in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels quickly advanced to the forefront of design during the Art Deco period. The arts and cultures of the wider world became more accessible, and the flood of influence poured into Paris from every corner of the unknown. Most widespread, however, were the exotic aesthetics of India, Egypt and the Orient. These never-before-seen shapes, colors and motifs ignited the imaginations at Van Cleef & Arpels, which responded with a stream of unprecedented jewels of singular design. Carved Indian gems, Egyptian symbols and Oriental stylizations were readily incorporated into the Art Deco designs of the Maison.
The ethereal ballerinas of Van Cleef & Arpels originated from Louis Arpels’ passion for classical ballet and opera. These beloved figurative clips began with the artistic collaboration of Maurice Duvalet, a French-born designer who moved to America at the end of World War I, and John Rubel, the House’s manufacturer who had just emigrated from Paris. With the first examples created in the 1940s, the glittering ballerina clips depicted the feminine figure in various graceful forms and positions of classical ballet with faces represented by a rose-cut diamond. Today, the ballerina continues to take center stage in Van Cleef & Arpels contemporary repertoire of designs, including the Daphnis ballerina clip, circa 2008, featured in the exhibition.
November 13th, 2015 to March 2nd, 2016
Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm
Sunday 12pm to 5pm
Van Cleef & Arpels
300 N. Rodeo Drive