The late French sculptor César Baldaccini’s experiments with compression have been reinterpreted by Celine’s Hedi Slimane, who has partnered with the Fondation César for the release of a new limited edition jewellery collection.

César’s fascination with compressed forms led to the creation of both small and large scale sculptures crafted from metallic objects. His interest, first piqued after a visit to a scrap merchant where he witnessed a large crushing machine in action, led to the creation of the artworks. It was a body of work that grew to encompass jewellery, and César’s compressed miniature sculptures created from the jewellery donated from friends and family became deeply meaningful adornments.

Cesar’s sculptures
César’s original pieces from the Fondation’s archives. Courtesy of Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels

Now, Celine has rethought this history, creating strong forms which bring to life an era artistically influential for both the Celine Maison and Fondation César. The jewellery, aligning César’s first compressions in gold from the early 1970s with the decade’s sense of Parisian glamour, encapsulates a sense of creative freedom.

‘There is a strong coherence between the Compression pendants and Hedi’s Celine fashion,’ says Stéphanie Busuttil, head of Fondation César and César’s widow. She sees many parallels between the two artists: ‘They share a sensibility, an instinctivity, and a certain timidity. They are very solar in a way, and they both were very close to Azzedine Alaia, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. For me it means something. There is an echo, I can’t explain it, but it is a kind of posthumous family – or an invisible link.’

Celine jewellery
The Celine César Compression project

It is a connection reflected in the jewellery, which references this rich history in two 100-piece editions of vermeil and silver. The elongated silhouettes pay homage to the original collection, with the neatly shrunk forms a microcosm of the sentimental nature they were imbued with. Fittingly, they come complete with a retractable hook, and are also intricate stand-alone sculptures in their own right. §

Celine jewellery
 César’s original piece from the Fondation’s archives. Courtesy of Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels