Paris couture jeweler Lydia Courteille’s two-day visit to Urban Flower Grange Hall in Dallas was her first in “at least” 10 years, so she was a bit stunned to see every client adorned in her designs at a welcome dinner in the boutique’s restaurant on Monday. “I never imagined to meet 18 people wearing my things at the same time, so I was very proud,” Courteille said in her French accent.
Courteille showcased 50 of her jewel-encrusted, 18-karat gold creations, many inspired by the indigenous cultures of Argentina and Guatemala. “When I traveled to Guatemala I was so inspired by the fabrics, by the embroidery, by the culture — Mayan culture,” Courteille noted. “I decided to note everything I saw on my trip — the birds, the archaeology, superstition, legends — everything. I took these one by one and tried to put it into the jewelry.”
Each of Courteille’s creations is a unique, three-dimensional sculpture with a touch of whimsy. For instance, a bejeweled ring of a Mayan step pyramid conceals a pavé-diamond skull that bobbles on a spring, jack-in-the-box style, when the hinged top level hangs open.
The offerings ranged from pink tourmaline, sapphire and diamond flower post earrings priced around $10,000 to a weighty sapphire, ruby, tsavorite and diamond cuff depicting two parrots framing a giant faceted aquamarine for $300,960, she said.
She chose not to bring her newest collection, dubbed the Dark Side of Marie Antoinette, because two or three of the major pieces are incomplete. It is a gothic view of the doomed queen, a vision of her in prison, condemned by her crown, with spiders invading her finery.
“The storytelling is very special, and if I don’t have the main pieces [then] nobody can understand,” Courteille said.
The theme of her next collection is lace, and Courteille is likely to find inspiration on an upcoming journey along the Silk Route.
Courteille’s American business is far better than at her Rue Saint Honoré shop in Paris, she said, blaming the “yellow vest” street protesters for frightening off visitors. “The tourists aren’t coming,” she said. “We are in trouble, very big trouble, and we don’t know how to stop it. It’s difficult because most of the people, even our customers, have to schedule a long time before they come, maybe three months before, and we are in trouble for 18 weeks. I think for spring, it’s [over].”