Fashion

In the Mind of Dior Jeweler Victoire de Castellane

What do you get when a legendary couturier gives one of Paris’ quirkiest creatives carte blanche to design fantasy jewels?

Victoire de Castellane is the kind of jeweller modern-day jewellers aspire to be. For starters, she’s got serious artistic cred: In 1998, after spending 14 years at Chanel dreaming up costume baubles alongside Karl Lagerfeld, the design extraordinaire was handpicked by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault for the top job of Creative Director at Dior Joaillerie.

She looks the part, too. De Castellane’s style is quintessentially Parisian, but in far more memorable and quirky manner (it’s true, Google her). “I’m not trying to be in fashion.” she says. “This is my personality. I dress for the moment – almost like Halloween. I’m not superficial but I love to look superficial.”

Outstanding resume and style points aside, what really garnered de Castellane her stellar repute are her highly imaginative stunners which defy, effortlessly, traditional beauty in jewellery. The designer’s larger-than-life creations have been inspired by the most peculiar things, from carnivorous plants to psychotropic drugs and, most recently, the décor of every single salon and garden in the Château de Versailles; shown at top art galleries such as the Gagosian in Paris, London and New York; and worn by A-listers such as Rihanna and Natalie Portman on the red carpet. A handful of Dior’s clients also regularly meet with de Castellane to co-design unique pieces. “All special orders are unconventional. That’s why they are special,” she adds.

So what goes on in the mind of a jeweller as outré as de Castellane’s? Here, we find out.

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Dior à Versailles, Côté Jardins is a continuation from last year’s high jewellery collection. Parterre du midi Émeraude secret watch in pink, yellow and white gold.
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Inspired by carnivorous plants, the Dior Milly Carnivora collection features gold covered in colourful lacquer. Egratigna Chipie ring in 18k white gold with diamonds and spinels.
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Rose des Vents ring in 18k pink gold with diamond and pink opal.
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Bosquet de La Salle de bal Émeraude necklace in pink, yellow and white gold and platinum.
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Bosquet de la Reine Paraiba Tourmaline earrings in pink, yellow and white gold
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We were transported to Versailles last year with dedicated to the chateau’s graphic and ornamental details. The star piece of th eDior à Versailles high jewellery collection: the Galerie des Glaces necklace in platinum, white gold, pink gold and darkened silver with diamonds – inspired by the crystal chandeliers in the famed Hall of Mirrors.

Which matters more: The narrative or the design?

The narrative and the design are linked. The latter begins with a story. Since arriving at Dior, I have developed the existing themes of the house such as Christian Dior’s garden in Milly-la-Forêt; large eccentric-looking balls; and, of course, couture. However, the themes of my collections are only a starting point and I mix those with my own inspirations. I perpetuate the dialogue with Monsieur Dior.

 

You’ve channelled clashing colours in your designs, masqueraded high jewellery as costume jewellery and even used blackened silver in your most extravagant creations for Dior. Where do all those ideas come from?

I pull a lot of inspiration from my environment, society, human relations, art, exhibitions, movies, photography, nature, the female universe, love, sexuality, psychoanalysis and life itself. Everything inspires me. I put all those inspirations in my “mental shaker” and that is how a new collection starts. Each collection leads to another and I adore the idea of going not only further, but where I least expect. I hate being bored. I find that being bored makes me unhappy, so I always need to create things that entertain myself.

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Kooky cartoons drawn by de Castellane playfully depict Dior’s Rose des Vents stunners.

How do you choose your gems?

I work with stone merchants and a very professional team at Dior who respect and know very well my requirements in terms of quality. I choose the stones according to my desires and needs of colours and shapes. To refine their beauty, the centre stones are systematically reformed and the facets are reworked and polished.

Do you see beauty in semi-precious hard stones?


At Dior, there is no difference anymore between precious and semi-precious stones. I would rather call them less conventional stones. I particularly like the colours of the Paraiba tourmaline, the spessartite garnet, the tsavorite garnet and the demantoid garnet. I recently also used pink opal, turquoise, malachite and onyx for the Rose des Vents range.

 

Read the full interview in the September 2017 issue of L'Officiel Singapore (available on Magzter). 

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