Every year, Creative Director, Claire Choisne designs two fine jewelry collections for the historic house of Boucheron. To bring the ‘Histoire de Style’ collection to life, Choisne dives into the maison’s rich archives to draw inspiration and revive Boucheron’s designs with a modern touch. This year, Choisne plunged into the extravagant spirit of the ‘Roaring 20s’. Inspired by Boucheron’s abundant Art Deco archives, Choisne’s 2021 ‘Histoire de Style, Art Déco’ collection echoes the sleek, structured Art Deco style with a contemporary touch. Designed to reflect the antagonisms of the Art Deco style, the multi-wear gender fluid pieces embody both masculine and feminine energies.
In an attempt to understand the remarkable multi-wear jewelry pieces and the design process that brought them to life, Savoir Flair sat down with the creative genius behind the exceptional Boucheron high jewelry collection. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with Claire Choisne where she discusses everything from her inspiration for the collection, her thoughts on gender fluid jewelry, and the significance of fine jewelry in the modern world.
This incredible high jewelry collection was inspired by the archives of Boucheron and its Art Deco period. Can you share with us the moments of discovery you had while searching the archives, and how you interpreted the archival inspiration for the modern-day?
The idea was to show everybody the beauty of what we have in our archives, in bourgeois history. I wanted to show what we have in our archives from the Art Deco period, but I also wanted the result to be contemporary. So it was quite tricky. I spent time with my team, looking at all the pieces that we have in our archives from this period to understand what we can work with. And there were a lot of pieces. The archival pieces were a surprise for me at the time. Because for me, I had one simple vision of Art Deco. But when we looked at the archive, I understood that there are many ways to go about the Art Deco style. It was then that I started to choose the pieces that I loved and the ones that I would love to wear today based on aesthetics. Once I had chosen the pieces, I tried to understand why I loved them – what distinct characteristics did they possess?
I actually created a recipe of what I loved in the Boucheron Art Deco archives. And there were three steps to this recipe, which were based on antagonisms. I’ve always loved pieces that are really pure where the design is about the lines, but they are not minimalist – they are also opulent. So, that was the first step.
The second step focused on color. So for the collection, I chose emerald because I think it gives more consistency. And it is that combination of colors that reminds one of Art Deco. But there were pieces in the archive with a lot of colors. So, it was a choice.
And the last step of the recipe was choosing pieces that had a real feminine effect, but at the same time as they were structured with lines and there was also something masculine about them. So with this recipe, we paved the way to achieve the new, modern pieces.
Can you please walk us through the gems/crystals used in the Boucheron High Jewelry 2021 collection? What do they signify?
For this collection, we’ve only used diamonds and emeralds. Emeralds, of course, because they remind me of the Art Deco period. Black, white, and emerald signify the Art Deco colors. We’ve also played a bit with Onyx to create the black lines. I’ve also used the Rock Crystal, which I believe offers a kind of lightness to the pieces.
It is absolutely brilliant how each piece can be worn in multiple ways. Could you tell us how long it takes Boucheron to bring these incredibly innovative designs to life?
It is one big part of the creative process. We like the design to be simple. With my team, I really try to give the jewels as many possibilities as possible – to create something really strong. Take the diamond ribbon, for example, it’s inspired by a bracelet from the archives. If you look at it, the design is so simple. I loved the pattern of the bracelet in the archive. So we kept the pattern, but we decided to design a longer ribbon, which can be worn as a belt by men and as a headband by women and it gives a totally different effect on both. It is strong and delicate at the same time.
We’ve been creating multi-wear pieces for a while now but the multi-wear designs of the previous collections were different. You had the main jewelry piece and you could play with it but it was limited. So we tried to come up with different and interesting ways to play around with the pieces. When we design we make drawings of each piece and place them on silhouettes of men and women using Photoshop. We did the same with this collection and when we put the designs on men they looked super cool as well. So that’s the way we worked to find multiple solutions for each jewel.
Which piece out of the Boucheron High Jewelry 2021 collection took the longest to put together?
The piece that took the longest hours of work is the ‘Cravate Émeraude’. It took our craftsmen a total of 1,250 hours of work to bring the piece to life. The second-longest piece to assemble was the ‘Col Émeraudes’ which took a total of 800 hours to put together.
When you look through the maison’s archives are there any particular differences that you notice between the jewelry of the 1920s-40s and what it is now? Do you think fine jewelry has evolved over the decades? If yes, how?
It’s the purity. In the past jewelry was more about curves, it was about florals and nature. It was beautiful but it was also complicated. And with the start of Art Deco, jewelry evolved to be more abstract and less figurative. It’s more structured. And the main thing is purity – that is why I believe structured designs, lines, travel through time really well.
It’s interesting that you mention the ‘Roaring 20s’ in the video. Do you think that we might be on the brink of experiencing a similar extravagant era in the post-pandemic world? If yes, what role do you see high jewelry playing?
Yes, I totally agree. I believe after going through a year of global crisis people will react like that. When you are without your freedom for so long in the end people want to be together, of course, to have fun, to dress up to look forward to something positive and joyful. I am not sure if we will see a lot of bling. I am sure people will want things that bring joy. Fine jewelry is a timeless creation. I don’t know if people will want to be reassured by this long time luxury or whether they will want something more temporary that is totally crazy and blingy. We will have to wait and see.
What inspired you to create pieces for both men and women?
To be honest, in the beginning, it was more about instinct. In our last collection in July we included an earring and a brooch for men and a few other pieces. And I loved the effect – it was stronger. I just loved the pictures of the men wearing jewelry. That’s why we used Photoshop to try out the designs on men this year. I love the strength that it gives to jewelry. Also, Art Deco’s antagonisms can be translated to create pieces that are both masculine and feminine. It was instinctive. I am really happy that we used men and women to showcase the pieces and I think we will do it again. It has opened a door for me.
Do you see men embracing jewelry in a more mainstream way in the near future?
I am sure they will. In fact, when you think about it, the most important pieces of jewelry in the past were designed for men. I don’t know why but at some point in history that stopped and jewelry only focused on women. I think it’s possible to reinforce that style for men.
In Europe, it’s not so visible. But there are parts of the world – Asia for example – where men are more confident to wear jewelry. I also quickly skimmed through the Men’s Fashion Week highlights last week and I observed jewelry for men everywhere. It is of course not very loud, but you have men with earrings with necklaces. I am seeing a great change.
In the video, you spoke about men wearing jewelry back in the day as a symbol of power. What do you think jewelry means to the modern woman? To the modern man? What does it symbolize?
In my opinion, the meaning of jewelry changed. Historically, jewelry was about power, it was about status. Now, it is not so much like that. Now, it’s more of a medium to help you express yourself, your personality. It about the emotions a piece of jewelry invokes. To sum it up, today jewelry is about emotions, style, and pleasure.
What according to you is the one piece of jewelry that every woman should invest in?
The one that she loves. Don’t think too much. For me, emotions hold more value than the price of the jewelry. Jewelry is on your skin at all times. It is really personal. So I will say that the one that she really loves.