COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Victoire de Castellane
Crystalucinae Metha Agressiva

Crystalucinae Metha Agressiva

In today’s Haute Joaillerie, the role of the stone is predominant in the process of making jewelry, preeminence very much in tandem with the yielding of the goldsmith to the jeweler in early Modern Europe. What is significantly different today as compared to the art of jewelry making in the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe is the definition of “master jeweler.”

Victoire de Castellane, of the Provençal noble clan de Castellane that dates back to the 11th century, grew up in Paris, in a typical bourgeois manner that bored her tremendously. As an escape and because of a vivid imagination, five-year-old Victoire began playing with her mother’s jewelry, especially her rings whose exaggerated oversize proportions compared to her little fingers amused her. At the age of 12, de Castellane’s imagination compelled her to try her own skills in jewelry making. She created raw material from her own pieces of jewelry, which she melted. While that rebellious act was not met with approval at home, de Castellane’s independent spirit and rebellious styling, along with the help of her uncle Gilles Dufour who was at the time the right hand of Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, led her to a position with Karl Lagerfeld, as his assistant. She quickly moved up to styling models for the catwalk and especially choosing their jewelry to complement their outfits. In 1987, at the age of 24, she was hired to design jewelry for Chanel. Eleven years later, Bernard Arnault, the owner of Louis Vuitton, offered her the position of Creative Director of Haute Joaillerie at Dior.

The reception of her work, not only within the realm of luxury brands and Haute Joaillerie but also, most importantly, within the artistic milieu of Europe has been positive and strengthened over time. The collection of works exhibited last year at Gagosian Paris are examples of de Castellane’s artistic prowess in jewelry making. This means that there is still an audience who appreciates pieces of jewelry for their magical impact, emotional significance, conceptual origin, and powerful presence, namely the same qualities one would appreciate in works of art.  Which is perhaps indicative of the fact that the definition of “master jeweler” has evolved to a new model in the 21st century.

© Thomaï Serdari