BEVERLY HILLS — The majesty of the Arc de Triomphe, the cascading fountains of the Place de la Concorde and the scenic greenery of the Jardins des Tuileries: for the latest offerings from Louis Vuitton’s L’Ame du Voyage fine jewelry collection, designer Lorenz Bäumer took his inspiration from his own backyard.
The 30-piece collection was previewed at Vuitton’s Rodeo Drive store here on Tuesday, where it will remain for two weeks. After that, “whatever is left” will be flown back to Paris, where it will remain for this summer’s opening of the brand’s stand-alone jewelry store at 23 Place Vendôme, said Hamdi Chatti, vice president for watches and jewelry at Vuitton. It later will be showcased in other cities, including Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In the meantime, a small, high-security corner of the top floor of the Beverly Hills store holds the collection, which ranges in price from $55,000 to $1.1 million, and features three suites from L’Ame du Voyage (“The Soul of the Trip”) and other pieces linked to the brand’s runway offerings.
From its inception in late 2009, L’Ame du Voyage has referenced numerous cultures, including Africa’s Masai tribes and Japan’s Geisha girls.
“The next stage is Paris,” said Chatti. “We have landed.”
Bäumer, Vuitton’s artistic director of high jewelry, took Paris’ most iconic landmarks and used them as inspiration. For the one-of-a-kind Champs-Elysées necklace, rivulets of dark red spinel and diamonds were based on the broad thoroughfares of the avenue, a diamond-studded arc perched at the top. A sprinkling of Ceylon sapphires among diamonds is meant to invoke the fountains of the Place de la Concorde, while emeralds reflect the greenery of the Tuileries.
Then there are the more youthful pieces, linked to Marc Jacobs’ recent runway collections for the house. The fetish motif that underscored last fall’s collection was a reference point for Baumer, who turned out a diamond-studded mask necklace and thick wrist cuff.
Also new is a minaudière embellished with 220 carats of pavé diamonds in the pattern of the Vuitton logo and with a solid gold and black silk tassel, which will retail for $880,000. A slender diamond headband comes with a detachable piece that can double as a brooch. And statement rings include one that features a 135-carat aquamarine at its heart.
“I wanted to show how jewelry is a very legitimate part of the business, how it’s a part of the Louis Vuitton spirit,” said Bäumer, who joined the brand in 2009. “And I love the collaboration of fashion and high jewelry. When I design, I think of what kind of woman would wear this because now she is such a global customer.”