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NEW YORK — Louis Vuitton is expanding its reach in the fine jewelry market with a new collection called Emprise.
This story first appeared in the January 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Emprise, which features both jewelry and watches, takes inspiration from the brand’s heritage, specifically the iconic monogrammed trunk.
Hamdi Chatti, Vuitton’s senior vice president of watches and jewelry, said the idea was to take the essence of the trunk and “design it through a watch and a whole collection of jewelry.”
Rather than wait for Paris couture appointments at the end of January, when the company typically unveils new jewelry pieces, the collection was introduced during New York pre-fall appointments.
“We believe that [the collection] is designed for an American customer and for New Yorkers,” said Chatti. “It started from the idea of a mighty woman.”
At the center of Emprise are four square-faced watches with satin or leather straps, some embossed with a grosgrain ribbon pattern. The designs are offered in both steel and gold, some with diamond embellishment.
Both models reflect distinct elements of the Louis Vuitton trunk, including corner caps and notches that imitate nail studs. The steel models feature a dial decorated to mimic the lines of Parisian wood paneling, while the gold styles have a quilted face to reflect the protective padding within a trunk.
“The purpose of the trunk is to protect your stuff,” Chatti said. “The purpose of the watch is to protect your time.”
The protective aspect translates to the collection’s jeweled offerings as well. Gemstones, including amethyst, citrine, tourmaline and morganite, sit as pendants on long chains within cagelike settings that are individually crafted to perfectly encase each unique stone.
“Our trunks are custom-made for each customer,” said Chatti. “We want it to be the same idea for jewelry.”
Similarly set rings and earrings act as companion pieces to the necklaces, all with a strong emphasis on cut. “We want a perfect cut,” Chatti said. “We believe in symmetry.”
Each design is digitally customized and then cut by hand at the house’s French atelier.
Rounding out the Emprise offerings are a handful of simpler pieces, including rings, bangles, earrings and pendants in diamonds, and yellow and white gold. Details of nail-like studding, seen in the watches and gemstone designs, also subtly tie back to the trunk motif.
For the jewelry, retail prices range from approximately $1,000 for a white gold ring to $150,000 for a white gold and diamond pendant necklace with a 28.08-carat aquamarine stone. The watches start at $8,750 for the steel and white diamond-studded watch in calfskin and reach $19,900 for a yellow gold version with diamonds and a silver opalescent dial.