‘Dior a Versailles’ pays a luxury and kind homage to the history and heritage of Versailles Palace. The symbol of French courts luxury lifestyle meets the sophistication of one of the most known fashion houses of the world and the final result is breathtaking. The inspiration was “Versailles by night”, explains Victoire de Castellane.
Of all the precious gems and metals used in the Dior High Jewellery collection Dior a Versailles, it is relatively humble silver which has the most impact. Oxidised to a uniform black, the technique of layering it over gold was used by Georgian and Victorian jewellers to enhance the sparkle of diamonds.
Chez Dior, and in the hands of Victoire de Castellane, this darkened silver serves to not only accentuate the stones but to bring to the collection an element of darkness. As de Castellane explained in the notes, she “tried to imagine Versailles by night, with its interior illuminated by candlelight that made gemstones sparkle”.
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But it’s not just the idea of a candle-lit Versailles inhabited by all those sumptuously dressed men and women that inspire the collection – it’s all the tiny details that make up the whole. And so a jewel might be inspired by the ceiling of the Apollo Salon, dedicated to the God of the Sun after whom Louis XIV styled himself. In the Salon D’Apollonecklace, a brilliant yellow diamond is surrounded by a constellation of white and yellow diamonds, a swirling ribbon of blackened silver, all on a necklace of two sides; one undulating and ribbon-like, the other in uniformly arranged white diamonds.
In the Galerie des Glaces or Hall of Mirrors earrings, the drops of all those magnificent chandeliers are rendered as diamonds, framed in a scallop-edged surround and suspended from tiny white diamond bows. Or in the Appartements de Mesdames Cassette ring, the flat face, consisting of a huge oval-shaped white diamond is perfectly surrounded by specially-cut diamonds to create a rectangle which opens to reveal a hidden compartment.
There’s a particularly masterful use of baguette stones channel-set in bows to look like scrunched-up grosgrain ribbon. It’s a technique that has been used in past Dior High Jewellery collections, in tribute to the fabrics and shapes seen in haute couture, but it seems to have been perfected here. Ribbons of pink sapphires knot and weave through ribbons of yellow diamonds, all set in yellow and pink gold and dangling an exquisite yellow diamond framed with that stone-popping scorched silver. It may be inspired by a tiny decorative detail from Versailles interior, but one just as easily imagines it to be a tribute to the tiny bows holding up the stockings of that other famous Versailles resident, Marie Antoinette.
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Dior a Versailles is a veritable lesson in the decorative arts of France’s most famous royal chateau – it just happens to be told in exquisite jewels.
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