Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director Watches and Jewellery, on continuing the Louis Vuitton legacy through gems and gold.
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How did Louis Vuitton Spirit come about?
I wanted to break away from [the previous high jewellery collection] Bravery, which was a historical collection in that it drew inspiration from the past and the legacy left by Monsieur Louis Vuitton. This year, we wanted to express the spirit of Louis Vuitton, and to reveal its full essence. Louis Vuitton Spirit has a rather poetic dimension. It’s a more conceptual collection that mirrors the values of our Maison and of the Louis Vuitton woman. I picture the Louis Vuitton woman as a mysterious creature, a strong character with something mythical about her. I wanted these High Jewellery pieces to conjure up strong emotions and a powerful energy. What I especially enjoyed about working on this collection was being able to approach the mythology of the dragon and the phoenix in a more modern, non-figurative way. I felt that I could translate these strong characteristics into jewellery pieces that make an equally powerful impact.
How would you describe them?
We designed these High Jewellery pieces like a second skin that protects the wearer, akin to precious armour. Louis Vuitton Spirit channels Riders of the Knights, our 2019 collection, which already touched on the idea of protection. Like the trunks that keep people’s personal belongings safe on their travels, these jewels are designed as fabulous shields that protect women as they make their way through life. Take the Radiance necklace—like a dragon’s hide, its gold and diamond scales ward o danger. The Grace torque necklace calls to mind a phoenix’s wings as they spread open, or rather, the power those wings have. It gives a sense of taking flight, of soaring to infinity. It’s a stunning piece, made utterly sublime by a breathtaking 65-carat tsavorite!
There is a predominance of triangles and V-shapes in the jewellery sets. Is this a new aesthetic code?
Yes, along with diamonds in a Monogram Flower-cut, the Damier checkerboard and the trunks. All these elements contribute to making up the Louis Vuitton identity. We combine triangles with the Vuitton V to achieve constructions, patterns and oftentimes textures with an effect that’s both sophisticated and graphic. The most compelling examples are the Fantasy pieces, where yellow gold chevrons are mixed with diamond-paved triangular patterns. Then there’s the Liberty necklace, which takes the Damier pattern and breaks it up, adding corner motifs from the trunks. It’s like a piece of armour made of white gold and diamonds, embroidered with an exceptional suite of emeralds from Colombia and an ultra-rare 18-carat sapphire. Our goal with Louis Vuitton Spirit was that these pieces should express the power of Louis Vuitton, yet be crafted so that they’re infinitely supple and wearable. It took our Parisian workshops 40,000 hours to craft the 125 or so pieces in this High Jewellery collection.