The jewellery world’s most glamorous and legendary inspirations
From Jane Birkin for Jean-Louis Dumas to Françoise Gilot for Picasso, a designer’s muse does not only inspire the artist in shaping a label or a piece of art into the icon that it is known today. She perfectly embodies and epitomises the creation, almost becoming synonymous with it, oftentimes for a lifetime.
In fine jewellery, it is much more brilliantly so. For some of the legendary muses, their influences have often been so profound and so evident that brands couldn’t help but reinvent, revisit, and revive their glory days, either through a new collection, a new campaign, or with an important tribute.
RENE LALIQUE & SARAH BERNHARDT
For René Lalique, arguably one of the most important jewellers in the art nouveau era (1890-1910), it was Sarah Bernhardt, the eccentric superstar of the Belle Epoque,that inspired him like no other. The Divine Sarah, as the actress was famously known, was Lalique’s favourite muse. The designer was drawn to the actress’ energy and extravagant manners. In return, the theatre actress would wear Lalique’s daring yet fabulous creations on stage, which perfectly suited her unique demeanour, both on and off the stage. Among them were a lotus brooch that she wore inIzéyl (1893) and a theatre crown adorned with lilies for her role in The Princess Far-Away (1895).
To this day, after more than a century, René Lalique and Sarah Bernhardt’s legacy is very much alive. The brand’s La Divine collection, an ode to Bernhardt, features the actress’ favourite flora and fauna, from lilies to parrots. The stunning Adrienne necklace, created in collaboration with Paris Opera, and part of a five-piece capsule collection, is a tribute to Bernhardt’s iconic role on stage, that of Adrienne Lecouvreur and her tragic story¾ she said to have been poisoned to death by a rival. Drama and tragedy are highlighted in carved onyx feathers and diamond tears.
For René Lalique, it was Sarah Bernhardt, the eccentric superstar of the Belle Epoque, that inspired him like no other
TIFFANY & CO. & AUDREY HEPBURN
Sometimes, the connection is not even intentional and can be purely a case of perfect symmetry, as in the case of Tiffany & Co. and Audrey Hepburn.
More than 50 years after she played the iconic role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and 26 years after her death, Audrey Hepburn remains one of our favourite fashion icons of all time. Over the years, among all the celebrities that Tiffany & Co. dressed, no one has made an impact quite close to Hepburn’s. According to the brand: “In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn personified Tiffany style”. We couldn’t agree with it more.
One of the most unforgettable scenes for both jewellery and film lovers was when Hepburn stepped out of a yellow taxi in a stunning Givenchy black dress wearing a rope of pearls, and proceeded to stand outside of a Tiffany store while enjoying a breakfast to go. From that moment on, Hepburn became instantly synonymous with the glamour of Tiffany& Co.
At Tiffany, Hepburn’s legacy lives on. For one of its newest collections, the Paper Flowers, Tiffany taps into the discerning tastes of the millennials with Hollywood young actress Elle Fanning leading its campaign. In the video for the campaign, Fanning is seen gazing into the brand’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with the classic version of Moon River playing in the background.
“In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn personified Tiffany style”
DUKE FULCO DI VERDURA & COCO CHANEL
Mutual respect and love for design were what brought Duke Fulco di Verdura and Coco Chanel together. Naturally, theirs was more than just a designer-muse relationship. It turned into a life-long friendship and countless design collaborations.
In the 1930’s when Verdura started working for Coco, the first thing the latter asked him to do was redesign her jewellery collection. And the rest was history. Although much of the collaboration was not publicly documented, one of the most famous designs that came out of their friendship and collaboration was the Maltese Crosscuff. Originally designed for Coco, the design features enamel and precious stones with a Maltese cross motif, distinctive of Verdura’s Mediterranean influence – inspired by the star of the Knights of Malta. The cuffs became a favourite of Coco, which she wore almost everyday, and eventually became one of the iconic designer’s recognisable fashion style.
Since its creation in the 1930s, the Maltese Cross cuff has been recreated and updated a number of times. The Theodora cuffs, created to celebrate Verdura’s 75th anniversary and its most luxurious rendition to date, features 31 gemstones, including sapphires and amethysts in black enamel.
Since its creation in the 1930s, the Maltese Cross cuff has been recreated and updated a number of times
DAMIANI & SOPHIA LOREN
Global film icon Sophia Loren had one of the most interesting rags to fame stories in Hollywood. She grew up illegitimate and poor in Pozzuoli, Italy, and fought against all odds to become one of the greatest actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
Today, the actress is one of the world’s fashion and film icons, embodying that great Italian flair. As a friend and muse to the Italian jewellery house Damiani, Loren shares the brand’s ideals of refined elegance, often seen on the red carpet wearing Damiani’s fine jewellery pieces.
As a tribute to the legendary actress, Damiani dedicated a 2006 collection after Loren, reflecting the actress’ distinctly elegance rendered in swirls of pink and white gold, decorated with a cascade of clear classic cut round diamond. In the Sophia Loren collection, a balance between contemporary fashion in pink goldand the familiar classics in white gold is evident.
A friend and muse to Damiani, Sophia Loren shares the brand’s ideals of refined elegance
BVLGARI & ELIZABETH TAYLOR
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, as the American film industry flourished, so did Rome — depicted in the films as the most romantic and glamorous city to be. Many legendary and classic films were shot in the romantic city, so much so that it became the most-visit place of movie stars. Among the stars biggest discoveries in the city was the Bvlgari shop in Via Condotti. Soon after, the stars were seen wearing the brand’s fine jewellery on and off the screen.
Among its favourite patrons was Elizabeth Taylor, who, after filming Cleopatra, developed a serious love affair with both her co-star Richard Burton, whom she fell in love with while filming the movie, and, of course, with Bvlgari. Not only the brand’s jewels served as e a testament to their love story,the Bvlgari Via Condotti storewas also said to be the couple’s favourite hideout, away from the paparazzi, spending precious moments and celebrating their love together surrounded by luxurious Bvlgari jewels.
Along with their love story, Taylor’s Bvlgari collection grew, with Burton gifting her some of the most magnificent Bvlgari jewels during their time together, including a spectacular emerald and diamond suite (1964), a sautoir with a 65ct octagonal sapphire for her 40th birthday (1972), and an emerald engagement ring, which she auctioned off to raise funds to fight against AIDS.
In 2011, Christie’s held an auction of Taylor’s private collection —including a number of Bvlgari pieces, which set records as the most valuable sale of jewellery in auction history. Bvlgari reacquired nine pieces, which are now part of the Bvlgari Heritage Collection, a great reminder and representation of Taylor’s passion for the brand.
The Bvlgari Via Condotti store was said to be Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s favourite hideout, away from the paparazzi