PARIS — Boucheron artistic director Claire Choisne had just started sketching the first designs for the upcoming “Ailleurs” high jewelry collection when the first lockdown pressed pause on movement and travel.
“The solution I chose was traveling mentally and imagining five ‘elsewhere’ universes with no creative or geographical constraint, except the idea that they had to be in nature,” she said at a preview of the collection, which will be revealed in full in July.
Guiding her through this imaginary voyage was her desire to reveal the beauty of nature. “We took the liberty of mixing universes and materials — precious or not because they’re all beautiful — that everything opposes in principle,” Choisne said.
In the meantime, there’s one destination some of these designs are headed to: Cannes.
Among them the “Rotin” necklace, from the “Femme Sable” (or sand woman, in English) set, which brings together the wood-like material used in wickerwork, white gold and diamonds. Resting at the throat, a diamond hides the clasp that keeps the open-backed design closed.
It is one of five sets in which Choisne plays with materials outside the traditional remits of high jewelry by going back to the idea of ornamentation in the animal world.
And the red carpet is the perfect arena for the most daring specimens of humans to show their finery — and challenge a brand’s aesthetic status quo.
Take Salma Hayek, who chose one of Boucheron’s question-mark necklaces, only to wear it wrapped around her chignon instead of her neck, pointed out chief executive officer Hélène Poulit-Duquesne.
“That’s exactly what I expect out of Cannes. An essential part of Boucheron’s brand platform is the idea that jewels are meant to live, not sleep in a bank vault. All the advertising in the world can’t replace [that],” she added.
Likewise, the idea that men can also partake in high jewelry. Though the proportion of male high jewelry customers remains small, the segment is showing potential. “In Asia, it’s growing strongly, become a real segment, and in Europe, I hope that it will happen,” she said, adding that in the Middle East, gem-set watches were in favor for the male luxury aficionado.
There, too, she expects the red carpet effect to work its magnifying-glass magic. “A few years ago, it was a smoking [jacket] with a little brooch. For the past couple of years, we can get more important pieces on men, such as larger earrings,” she remarked, noting that inquiries and press attention on the segment has snowballed since Choisne started to show designs on male models in early 2020.
“At the 2022 Met Gala, a large number of men were wearing high jewelry. Every year, there are more and those images enter the collective unconscious, so I hope it’ll switch men onto the idea that they’re allowed to wear jewelry,” she concluded.