Dior’s Latest High-Jewelry Line Looks to Past

The graphic construction of vintage Dior pieces was the inspiration behind Victoire de Castellane’s new collection, named Archi Dior.

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PARIS — The graphic construction of vintage Dior pieces — including the house’s iconic Bar jacket — was the inspiration behind Victoire de Castellane’s new high-jewelry collection, this season named Archi Dior.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The 44-piece line, including 23 one-of-a-kind creations, features jewels designed to resemble sculpted, belted and draped fabrics. It will go on display at the Biennale des Antiquaires, set to run in Paris from Sept. 11 to 21, alongside scaled-down versions of some of the gowns that inspired them.

“The idea is Dior architecture, so I started with Dior sketches that featured draping and structured shapes and I played with the idea of how you would drape and pleat the fabric if it were gold,” de Castellane said during a preview. While the concept has been explored before — namely in the Fifties, when Van Cleef & Arpels launched fashion-inspired items like the Zip necklace — de Castellane breathes fresh life into the idea with the white, yellow and pink gold sculpted into 3-D ribbons, tassels and pleats. They are set with hundreds of stones that are individually cut and nestled deep in the folds and on the ridges of every piece to provide 360-degree sparkle. Prices range from 280,000 euros, or $383,225, to 2.3 million euros, or $3.15 million.

“You can view the rings from several angles — it’s as if you had three rings in one,” de Castellane said, pointing to the Corolle Soir Saphir ring that features an asymmetric ribbon design set with more than 1,000 stones, including an eight-carat sapphire. Meanwhile, the Ailée Diamant bracelet was inspired by Dior’s 1948 Ailée line. Made of more than 60 separate elements and set with 1,800 diamonds, 500 blue, pink and purple sapphires and a 5.62-carat emerald-cut diamond, it kept a single craftsman busy for 18 months.

For the Bar en Corolle Emeraude bracelet, de Castellane looked to the famous Bar jacket for shape — it’s cinched with a beltlike diamond midsection in a nod to the nipped-in waist — and to a more modern Dior collection for color: the spectrum of its 4,500 stones was inspired by the speckled Miss Dior dress that Raf Simons designed for his first haute couture collection for the house (fall 2012).

De Castellane noted that she’s moving toward a more structured style with this collection. “This was a new exercise in style — a collection with more abstract shapes, the theme of couture but melded with architecture,” she said.

Even when keeping her designs relatively sober, de Castellane manages to convey exuberance. The Milieu de Siècle diamond earrings, whose petal design evokes the Junon dress from the house’s 1949 fall couture line, are a case in point. By setting the diamonds on black-chromed white gold, the designer heightens their sparkle to an effect that resembles the original sketch.

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