“Diamonds are a girl’s best…Fred,” sang Ashley Park as she popped out from a rosy-hued arch. The “Emily in Paris” star wasn’t making her Broadway debut but was concluding her visit to the exhibition dedicated to the Parisian jeweler Fred, opening on Wednesday at the Palais de Tokyo.
It was certainly a sentiment shared by those who came for a glamorous evening that included a private visit of the brand’s first retrospective, a dinner and a dance performance inspired by the founder’s character traits.
Everyone certainly wanted to get up close to the 101.57-carat Soleil d’Or diamond, which drew admirers in the first room of the exhibition.
“I love yellow diamonds,” said Olivia Palermo, wearing a cream-toned column dress with a fluttering trim. It was a sentiment shared by the glittering crowd that meandered through the dozen thematic displays retracing the spirit of the founder and his family.
Géraldine Samuel, a cousin of creative director and vice president Valérie Samuel, was emotional when she took in the room arranged like the office of their grandfather Fred Samuel, who became a “second father” to her after the untimely death of her father Jean in the 1980s.
“All these pictures, we know them by heart because we grew up with them, but seeing the whole story is marvelous,” she said, sharing how Fred Samuel cultivated a spirit of openness by pushing his grandchildren to learn different languages and travel.
For anyone unable to eyeball the carat-weight of their best friend’s diamond, there was also a diamond gauge pendant, one of many charms imagined by Fred Samuel since the 1930s.
After that, guests could all take their turn on the red carpet in the room dedicated to the house’s connection to famous faces. But the stars here were undoubtedly the iconic dress and ruby hearts necklace by Fred that were worn by Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”
Other rooms delved into the brand’s royal connections both with Monaco’s Princess Grace and the last kings of Nepal, or offered a long procession of objects ranging from graphic lipstick cases and an inlaid powder case shaped like a scarab, to a watch whose face is a 1,000 Hong Kong dollar gold coin featuring a tiger.
Timepieces by Gerald Genta for Fred drew a visitor’s comment that the legendary designer had “really invented everything.”
Parisian jewelry designer Annelise Michelson, who collaborated with the jeweler in 2020, was still in awe of the whole experience that started when artistic director and vice president Valérie Samuel wrote to her asking if she “wouldn’t mind” being in the exhibition and the book.
“What time, when, coming right now,” is how Michelson reacted. Her initial thrill was doubled after discovering her bold gold knots exhibited next to the Freddy’s imagined by Jean-Paul Goude — the first client to purchase a piece from her eponymous brand launched in 2012.
The “13th room,” as chief executive officer Charles Leung later quipped, was set with a dozen tables named after the exhibits. Among the guests sampling the pairing of a menu by triple-starred Michelin chef Mauro Colagreco with a presentation of pieces from the “Monsieur Fred Inner Light” high jewelry collection were Princess Grace of Monaco’s designer granddaughter Pauline Ducruet; actors Ed Westwick and Paul Forman; artist Liu Bolin, and YouTube star Léna Mahfouf, better known as Léna Situations.
Fred’s newly minted Korean brand ambassador Wonyoung Jang, best known under the mononym Wonyoung as a member of the IVE girl group, made her first appearance for the brand.
Dance tableaux that evoked the traits of Fred Samuel that underpinned the exhibition and high jewelry collection were another highlight of an evening that continued long after the sun had set on Paris.