May 19th was the day Van Cleef & Arpels chose to organize their black tie cocktail accompanying the launch of the sumptuous exhibition “Timeless Beauty”, spanning over 100 years of history. The exhibition is running from May 20 to July 15 in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Shanghai covering the two first floors for a total of 1200sq. meter space right in the heart of People’s Square. I was pleased to be invited to the preview cocktail.
The French Maison, created at the end of the nineteenth century by Charles Arpels and Afred Van Cleef, is well known for its innovative masterpieces and by its broad scope of inspirations. For instance nature has always been a major theme for. Fascinated by the never-ending transformation of the fauna and flora, the jewelers designed numerous delicate flowers, blossoms and animals, real or imaginary bringing vitality and poetry to the creations of the brand since the 1920s.
|Feuille Mysterieuse 2006|
|Bird of Paradise 1927|
|Bird Cage 1935|
Enamel, agate, rubies, gold, sapphire, coral,
|Mystery Set Flowers 1937 |
Platinum, gold, rubies, diamonds
Other major inspirations of the Maison have always been oriental cultures. Van Cleef & Arpels counts numerous of masterpieces with Indian influences, Egyptian, Syrian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. “Timeless Beauty” features some of them matching their original sketches that the guests could admire that night while enjoying a glass of Perrier Jouet.
|Indian Inspiration Necklace 1971|
Gold, carved emeralds, diamonds
|Chinese Hat 1931|
Another big theme is femininity.
Femininity, elegance and refinement… aesthetic values that have always been at the heart of Can Cleef & Arpels. The Maison has become the favorite of the most beautiful women and have adorned them on mythical occasions (coronations, engagements, weddings, etc.). Among them, numerous of famous figures such as Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Fawzia of Egypt, Catherine Deneuve, etc…
Other incredible yet decadent pieces.
|Farah Diba 1967|
1541 stones including 1469 diamonds, 36 emeralds, 36 rubies, 105 pearls
|Zip Necklace 1951|
On a personal point of view, I have been absolutely dazzled by “Timeless Beauty” and really impressed by the production of the displays. It is incredibly well done, sometimes really creative with the use of 3D effects, videos, noises, lighten tubular structures and bubbles; esthetically matching perfectly the essence of the brand. The flow of the event itself was flawless and well carried out. Many celebrities, actors, political figures and socialites from both countries showed up that night. The French Consul General Emmanuel Lenain honored us of his presence as well as former Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin and Minister Jean Louis Borloo. On the Chinese side Fan Bing Bing, Gong Li came as well as Zhang Jingchu, Tong Dawei, Wang Xueqi, Song Jia, Qin Lan, Pace Wu and few others.
By far the most impressive and creative exhibition I ever saw in MOCA and probably as good as the retrospective Cartier did in the Forbidden City in 2009.
20th May to 15th July 2012