High jewellery maisons take us on a private tour of secret houses
There's a distinct shift in how the great joaillerie maisons present their annual high jewellery collections - these rare suites of one-off pieces that propel jewellery design into the sphere of collectable art. Where straightforward bi-annual exhibitions in the realm of the Place Vendôme were once the norm - with clients being whisked off to extravagant events in rare-access Paris museums and palaces - high jewellery houses are increasingly inspired by high-fashion maisons to take their shows on the road. The idea is to relocate the old-fashioned client-maison relationship central to the business of rare-value objets from the confines of private rooms above renowned metropolitan addresses to places that no-one else can go. In effect houses are creating rich and rare experiences befitting a new era of high-jewellery collector with eclectic, as oppose to classic, cultural tastes. Hence, venues and locations are also somewhat in sync with fashion's recent exotic jaunts, with private gatherings staged in non-public access architectural or cultural houses of note. Luckily, it's been something of a fantastic journey for us too. The past few weeks, we've had a moonlit dinner on the rooftop of Capri's Brutalist Casa Malaparte courtesy of Louis Vuitton (pictured), been among the first to see newly restored Turkish Boudoir at Château de Fontainebleau with Chaumet, and viewed the Cartier collection at a magnificent ocean-front late 19th century villa in Domaine des Oliviers, with a cheeky night out at Picasso's Villa Minotaure, thrown in...
Louis Vuitton: Casa Malaparte in Punta Massullo, the Brutalist-style red-brick apartment that juts out of an eastern promontory in Capri, was the venue for the Louis Vuitton 'Acte V The Escape' high jewellery collection. The Italian artist Curzio Malaparte commissioned the architect Adalberto Libera to design the home in the late 1930s but then decided to build it himself with the help of a local builder. Casa Malaparte's pyramid-style staircase and rooftop terrace were used as backdrop locations in Jean-Luc Goddard's film Contempt, released in 1963. From the left: Casa Malaparte's furniture, including concrete trestle tables, were also designed by the owner, and Wallpaper*-sanctioned reading material similarly found on site
Louis Vuitton: The house was bequeathed to the Chinese Communist Party by the politically active Malaparte but is now in private ownership with links to the artist's family. The house, though renovated through the years to degrees, remains true to the character of Malaparte. The striped black-and-white marbled bathroom (pictured) has a distinctly classic but opulent minimalism
Cartier: Trust Cartier to get it so right. Rather than accent the classic Belle Époque nature of the Cap d' Antibes villa it displayed this year's Étourdissant high jewellery collection in, it transformed it into a Dan Flavin-style installation of rare jewels. Shimmering neon-lined boxes of colour provided a modernist backdrop for Cartier high and fine jewellery pieces
Cartier: The late 19th century villa in Domaine des Oliviers was transformed into a contemporary gallery, all the better to see the extraordinary pieces, glinting with emeralds, sapphires and diamonds, on display. The clean interiors focused attention on light and colour, reflecting the nature of the high jewellery creations within
Chaumet: The Place Vendôme house that created jewels for Napoleon and Joséphine, made links between the the exquisite craftsmanship and décor that define the imperial palace of Château de Fontainebleau and the skills central to its Joséphine high jewellery collection. A series of linked apartments - serving as offices and public reception areas - are richly decorated by famed artisans, as befitted Napoleon's eye for detail and luxurious materials
Chaumet: The Rousseau brothers - 18th century French masters of sumptuous decoration - imbued the Chateau's apartments with their own imperial interiors vision. The barrel-topped desk (left) inlaid with mother-of-pearl works as a jewel for the home, reflecting the skills of the master artisans of the Place Vendôme