PARIS — Judging by the caliber of events in store for jewelry clients attending the 25th edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires at the Grand Palais here this week, it’s set to be a sparkling affair.
Jewelers predict a solid client turnout and strong demand for their exclusive creations at the event, which opens on Wednesday for one week. The Biennale takes place every two years.
“The market is quite strong, let’s face it. We expect to sell more than we did two years ago,” said Bernard Fornas, president and chief executive officer of Cartier International SA, which has invited 250 top clients from around the world.
The house’s broad collection will include precious decorative objects and panther pieces carved from petrified wood or white opal. As real estate and stock exchange values seesaw, clients have come to regard fine jewelry as a rock-solid investment, Fornas said. “People’s [perceptions] of fine jewelry have changed. They don’t necessarily buy for investment, but on top of the pleasure and emotion, there’s an investment connotation which is maybe stronger than it was 10 years ago.”
The house figures among seven fine jewelers participating in the art fair, nestled among major players from the art and antiques worlds. These include Chanel Joaillerie, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, Dior Joaillerie and first-time participants Louis Vuitton and Piaget. The jewelry zone measures around 5,000 square feet.
On a par with the last session, around 80,000 visitors are expected to attend the Biennale, which for jewelry brands represents an increasingly important rendezvous for driving business, drawing a number of major clients from across the globe.
“[The Biennale] has a status and a cachet that allows these jewelers to do something special; it’s rather important to them,” confirmed organizer Hervé Aaron, president of the National Antique Dealers Association, adding that several tables have been reserved by houses for the event’s gala dinner tonight. Aaron disclosed he had heard of at least two companies that are planning to fly in clients from the Middle East.
“It’s become an unmissable event for us. It concentrates over a short period of time a big number of clients around a collection,” said Philippe
Mougenot, president of Chanel’s watch and jewelry division, who likened the Biennale’s impressive setting to an exquisite jewelry box or stately museum. The house, which has organized a dinner and baroque concert for clients at the Château de Versailles’ Le Théâtre de la Reine, will present its plume-themed jewelry collection.
“It’s great to be able to present alongside modern art galleries, say, as opposed to showing alone or with other jewelers,” echoed Nicolas Bos, vice president and worldwide creative director of Van Cleef & Arpels, who is also president and ceo of the jeweler’s Americas division.
Bos described the house’s Les Voyages Extraordinaires collection, inspired by 19th century science fiction author Jules Verne, as the highpoint of the year for its fine jewelry business, offering exposure to a public outside of its usual clientele. A hot air balloon and fantasy submarine will form part of the house’s set this year, designed by Argentine theater director Alfredo Arias. Four new rings will also be unveiled at the event, including the sea-inspired Hydôr ring featuring spiraling diamonds and blue sapphires around a 20.04-carat oval Ceylon sapphire.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast