LONDON — The idea for Diane Kordas’ new perfume amulets was born when she was on vacation for her wedding anniversary and asked her husband what had first attracted him to her. He told her it was her scent.
She had been thinking about personalization and how she could apply it to her creations — without resorting to monogramming — and diamond-encrusted amulets, designed to house the wearer’s scent, or that of their beloved, were a stylish, unique and covetable answer.
“Scent is a memory connector, it’s so powerful,” Kordas told WWD. A chance encounter with a neighbor on the London square where she lives resulted in an introduction to esteemed perfume nose Anastasia Brozler, who told her about the revenge that Josephine exacted on Napoleon when he divorced her in order to beget an heir to his throne.
“She knew how powerful scent was so when he left her to marry Marie Louise of Austria, she smeared the walls of their house [Malmaison] with her perfume so that he could never forget her,” explained Kordas.
Brozler, who creates fragrances for private clients, also confirmed Kordas’ hunch that women would want to wear her amulets. “She said, ‘Diane, I’ve been looking to design one of these because so many of my clients want one.'”
There are 10 styles in the collection, called Amulette, which also calls upon the 18th-century practice of wearing fragrance in amulets to protect from diseases. The collection incorporates a number of Kordas’ design signatures, including minimalist lines of diamonds and asymmetric stars set in pavé diamonds, worn on long 18-karat gold chains. The amulet stoppers are set in diamonds or made from black onyx.
Kordas came to the world of fine jewelry via fashion design — she was trained at The New School’s Parsons School of Design and worked in the buying program at Bloomingdale’s, and was also as a buyer at Barneys. She later set up a ready-to-wear brand in the Eighties. She turned her focus to designing jewelry in 2007 when, after many years of spending vacations in Greece, she asked a local workshop to make a collection of evil eye bracelets for children inspired by local Greek talisman traditions.
A personal shopper at Harrods put her in touch with a stylist, who asked Kordas to bring her samples to a palatial house in London, which turned out to belong to Madonna, who became her first customer when she bought bracelets for several of her friends.
Dover Street Market was the first retailer to stock her jewelry, which is now available at Net-a-porter, Matchesfashion.com, Montaigne Market, Luisa Via Roma and Nieman Marcus, among others.
Prices for the amulets start from 2,680 pounds, about $3,810 at current exchange, for a gold amulet with a diamond pavé stopper, and stretch to 3,900 pounds, about $5,550, for a black gold amulet with a line of diamond pavés and a pavéd stopper. A bullet-inspired amulet option for men is on the horizon.