Paris couture week has just finished and the fashion world has had its fill of sumtptuousness for the moment- until they all reconvene after the summer. It has become more interesting for jewellery designers and bloggers since the more important jewellery houses were allowed to exhibit their new High Jewellery Collections there. And it seems that we have a glut of wheat!
No less than three jewellery houses- Chanel, Chaumet and Boucheron- each unveiled three separate collections including the theme of wheat. As these projects are guarded with sphinx-like secrecy, the similarities can only be coincidental. Even so, I’m not sure I would want to be in any of the designers’ shoes right now as each collection was fanfared across the Place Vendôme to the gaze of collectors and commentators. Chanel created enormous impact by planting the Place Vendome with golden wheat, an installation by artist Gad Weil. Their Blé de Chanel Collection is a kaleidoscopic array of coloured stones, rendering the humble yet essential plant in a myriad of precious and semi precious stones; some of the pieces have retained that Coco-esque look of diamonds and pearls has stood the test of time.
Boucheron have looked yet again to their vast, marvellous archive; their Blé d’Étè wheat pieces are part of a set called Nature Triomphante and belong to the new 26 Vendôme High Jewellery Collection. The asymmetric necklace is redolent of neckpieces from the 19th century and is a classic that will almost certainly never date. They have also created two remarkable diamond set wristwatches in cream and black, also part of the Blé d’Étè line.
Chaumet’s offering is also part of a collection inspired by nature, but their interpretation is more mythological. The wheat parure is one of four, the other three designed around the laurel, the oak and the lys, all plants which attributed certain powers to the ancient gods. The collection is called (rather blandly) Les Natures de Chaumet. But it is lovely to see how nature can be reinterpreted again and again and the laurel necklace in pink sapphires, which draws on the legend of Apollo and Daphne, is a joy to behold.
All three houses have strong links to the wheat sheaf; Coco Chanel was a fan of the motif and wheat aigrettes, tiaras and brooches feature heavily the Boucheron and Chaumet archives. It was popular in the 19th century as a symbol of plenty (very apt for Couture Week). Queen Elizabeth II often wears a very pretty pair of wheat sheaf brooches passed down from Queen Victoria and one of the most famous wheat jewels is the diadem of the Empress Marie Fedorovna of Russia. The original was lost, but a near perfect replica was made by the Soviets (ironically) and is now on view at the Kremlin Armoury Museum