Van Cleef & Arpels Exhibition – A unique look at the legendary jewellery house

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PARIS – Aficionados of luxury jewellery are in for a real treat. After a whirlwind tour of exhibitions around the world which included Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai, luxury jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels has opened a new show at the Decorative Arts Museum in its hometown of Paris. This exhibition not only showcases the finest and best in luxury jewellery but also tells the unique history and story behind its exquisite pieces. The history of Van Cleef & Arpels is studded with technical inventions that have been passed down from one generation to the next in the Mains d’Or workshops.. From now till the 10th of February, these prestigious and famous pieces will be shown along with archive documents in an exhibition design by Jouin-Manku. The exhibition also features drawings, prototypes and a screening room where visitors can take a virtual tour of the brand’s headquarters on Place Vendôme, while two to three experts will be available to provide explanations and answer questions.

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This year’s Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition promises to be unlike any of the previous years, with all of the jeweller’s creations since 1906 – all 400 pieces, on display in chronological order by the year they were created. Nearly a third of the jewellery have never been shown to the public as they belong to private collectors. From the very first jewellery that was created to the most current one, exhibition goers will get to witness the whole evolution of fine jewelry and its relationship with the history of decorative arts in the 20th century. These fine pieces are displayed in futuristic curved glass cases that sit under petal-shaped suspensions, with a few specially selected ones shown in smaller side rooms where plexiglas tubes give visitors a all encompassing 360-degree view of the masterpieces.

Among the selection, goers can see certain constant themes present in the designs – the flora, fauna and abstract motifs which are emblematic of Van Cleef & Arpels’ originality. Notable pieces include Egyptomania, the ‘Roses’ bracelet that won the Grand Prix award at the International Exposition in 1925, and the pieces inspired by textiles – lace, knots, soft furnishings, drapery, tulle – have been constantly reinterpreted down the years, as has the invention of the Serti Mystérieux. And within the pieces, there are influenced pieces that represent time periods both symbolically and physically. A closer examination of the jewelry will reveal hints as to the influences of the period they come from; for example, Post-World War II pieces see the return of yellow gold after years of using platinum for the building of weapons.

A wander into the Twenties section would see several pieces inspired by the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, including a bracelet featuring a hieroglyph design rendered in diamonds, onyx, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. The Sixties on the other hand, saw the rise of Indian influences, which aptly reflected society’s growing fascination with Eastern philosophies and culture. From these influences,  a variety of famous and best-selling pieces including the Alhambra necklace, animal shaped brooches, and the Philippine ring were created. And who could forget the entire sequence of jewelry from the Forties and Fifties that were inspired by fashion and textiles.

At the opening-night gala, Princess Charlene of Monaco posed alongside the Océan diamond tiara, which she wore as a necklace for her first official appearance after her wedding to Prince Albert. Of course no luxury jewellery exhibit today would be complete without some pieces from Elizabeth Taylor’s collection. The Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition has on show the ‘Lion Barquerolles’, a dog collar featuring a lion’s head studded in diamonds and emeralds, given to the actress by her then-husband Richard Burton to celebrate the birth of her first grandchild. This 1971 piece transforms into two bracelets and a clip, and was purchased by Van Cleef  for its archives at the auction of Taylor’s jewels at Christie’s last year.

If you are planning a trip to the French capital, this is one exhibition you do not want to miss! Going by its show at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York last year, which drew a record 278,000 visitors, organisers are expecting a huge turnout so to avoid disappointment, be sure to book your tickets in advance here. And while you are in Paris for the exhibition, stay with Frasers Hospitality at any one of its two luxurious properties – Fraser Suites Harmonie and Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées.

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Fraser Suites Harmonie Paris la Defense is set in the business district of La Défense by the picturesque River Seine. Considered the Paris accommodation of choice for both business and leisure travelers, our 134 luxury Paris Suites and apartments blend 4-star hotel services with contemporary décor, excellent self catering and business facilities, and matchless service from multilingual staff. Choose one of our spacious Paris suites. La Défense’s futuristic buildings tower against the skyline and the River Seine meanders past. Many rooms boast balconies with stunning views over river or city.

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All of our Paris suites offer the same top facilities as other La Défense hotels, including a 24-hour reception and concierge, a stylish bar and a fitness suite. Corporate guests on a business trip to Paris will appreciate the WiFi, business centre, three spacious meeting rooms and quiet library. With a metro station opposite, an RER station within five minute’s walk, private underground parking and a reliable taxi and chauffeur service, it’s easy to travel to and from Paris’ best attractions. The Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Opéra and famous department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are all close. A direct RER train runs straight to Disneyland so you can always head there with family before or after the exhibition.

Frasers HospitalityFraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Elysées is one of the most dramatic hotels in Paris. Right on the Champs-Elysées, with sweeping views over classic façades, Parisian rooftops and a tranquil courtyard. Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs Elysées offers 110 central Paris serviced suites spread over six floors of a magnificent building dating back to 1914. The courtyard and balconied façade over the Champs-Elysées avenue are classified historical monuments. Inside is a showcase of classical French design. Discover sumptuous fabrics, beautifully carved antique furniture, marble bathrooms and glowing lamps – artfully combined with the latest technology and top quality facilities.

Frasers Hospitality

Ideal for business travellers – or for anyone looking for a great place to stay in Paris while relocating, on a training programme, working on location or simply enjoying a Paris holiday as a couple or as a family. Our spacious Paris apartments combine the advantages of a luxury hotel in Paris with self catering kitchens, business facilities, comfortable living areas and the ultimate location on the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris.

So book a stay with us today!


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