Long known for his influence in the literary, film and art worlds, the creative polymath Jean Cocteau is the subject of the latest jewellery collection by the Parisian label Atelier Paulin. Made possible by Cocteau’s estate, The Jean Cocteau Committee, which is presided by his niece, Dominique Marny, Cocteau’s writings and drawings have been transformed into delicate earrings, bracelets and necklaces that are truly wearable works of art.

‘The mission of the committee is to transmit the work of Jean Cocteau by relying on young creators who take a fresh and current look at his creations,’ shares Anne-Sophie Baillet, who established Atelier Paulin with her longtime friend, Matthias Lavaux in 2014. ‘Associating the traits of Jean Cocteau with our work was evident and coherent. We wanted to highlight his work by emphasizing his modernity, his limitless imagination and his freedom to think, and to create. These are all essential values for us today; values which are more and more often flouted.’

jean cocteau

For Atelier Paulin, which has become synonymous for its intricately bent, precious wire pieces, Cocteau’s wealth of drawings and words were an instant source of inspiration. His line drawings of Orpheus, often depicted in profile, have been elegantly translated into a long chain necklace, a delicately shaped ear cuff, as well as a longer earring, while several of his iconic lines have been made into bracelets. Other themes include a five-pointed star, which pays tribute to how Cocteau signed his work off as from 1925 until the war, and a sinewy serpent motif, that reappears in Cocteau’s favourite narratives – Adam & Eve and Orpheus.

‘The most challenging [pieces] to reproduce were some of [Cocteau’s] written works because his penmanship evolved throughout his life,’ adds Baillet. ‘We created a Cocteau alphabet from various handwritten documents. This allowed us to shape sentences from his texts, such as the "Berthe" necklace from the Human Voice –a sentence of which we had no handwritten traces.’

As each of the collection’s pieces has been bent by hand, they are all truly unique and collectible. Some designs have also only been produced in a limited edition of four. With the collaboration set to span the next five years however, the inaugural 14-piece collection is just the beginning of what is to come. §

jean cocteau
jean cocteau