As the couture shows dominate Paris this week, fine jewellery houses take advantage to entice the moneyed fashion crowd by hosting covert viewings of one-of-a-kind masterpieces in secret locations. This year’s offering has one clear standout: a cape of gold, drawn and crafted entirely by hand by Boucheron.

The pattern, ‘made mostly of fine, twisted chains to resemble grosgrain, dictates the form’, reveals creative director Claire Choisne, the quietly spoken jewellery designer with a consistently big, bold vision. With no engineering software to aid the process, it took Choisne and her coterie of master craftsmen and women 70 hours to sketch out the pattern on a Stockman dummy. ‘The design is easy,’ she says. ‘It was the technique that was tricky.’ The graphic effect, of peacock feathers – a Boucheron house motif – was key because Choisne was keen to avoid an overly romantic result, preferring instead the notion of Joan of Arc in a coat of fine armour. ‘I liked the idea of chain mail, so I wanted the chains to be straight and supple but with just the right tension so that they shimmer as the body moves. Getting the right balance in that was a feat.’

The gold carapace, which took over 1,000 hours to complete, may not come with the cool price tag attached to diamonds, but it shines with virtuoso skill. Says Choisne: ‘Jewellery design is about the uniqueness of the idea; not the preciousness of the material.’

As originally featured in the July 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*208)