Taking up the majority of a whole city block, Dior’s Paris headquarters are often referred to as the ‘house’ of Christian Dior. One of the offices located in the impressive collection of land is that of Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s head jewellery designer. Flaunting this title since 1998, De Castellane’s abode is exactly how you’d imagine: covered from head to toe in the finest gemstone detailing you ever did see. While the walls are certainly not plain, every inch of the room is meticulously designed, boasting delicate feather-like butterflies and Dior-grey walls, specially designed to transform into a rich blue as the sun goes down. Many of the stones displayed in the artwork are surprisingly pauvre, rather than the richer gemstones that De Castellane can undoubtedly afford. When questioned about this, the designer confessed to having a soft for the less expensive, often neglected gemstones.
Crowned with the doing of bringing colourful costume jewellery back into fashion and making the expensive creations extremely sought after, Victoire de Castellane has played a big role in the success and continued the progression of the high-end, fine jewellery of Christian Dior. In this article, we will explore the luxury brands history, as well as look into what makes them so superior to other jewellery brands; focusing on the work of the stupendous Victoire de Castellane, all the while.
Founded in 1947, Christian Dior was created by Christian Dior himself. His first designs were revealed to the market for the Spring of 1947, being referred to back then as the “New Look”. Little to his knowledge back then, this collection would change the course of the fashion industry. Boasting large and full skirts, narrow waists and structured tops, the overall design of the collection was far more feminine than the preferred style of clothing before, and during the war. Designing clothing of this nature was seen then as a big risk, with many not knowing how to react to such vibrant and dynamic wardrobe choices. To this day, the design motifs from Dior’s New Look collection are apparent in the world of fashion.
Although many designers chose to focus purely on clothing, Dior decided to tackle the jewellery world too, believing that fine jewellery was just important to fashion as clothing. Jewellery was created to go with each of his outfits, specifically designed to complement each piece of catwalk wear without over-powering it. Just one year later, he was able to open a fashion house named ‘Dior Costume Jewellery’ located in Germany. In 1954, Yves Saint Laurent was first introduced to Dior as a potential employee, resulting in him getting hired on the spot as part of the jewellery design team. Just three years later, Christian Dior died unexpectedly at the age of 52, after suffering a heart attack. This unfortunate circumstance left Yves Saint Laurent as creative director, at the young age of just 21. Without any promoting Saint Laurent took control of the jewellery design from that moment forward, until he left a couple of years later to open his own design house. Before his departure, Yves Saint Laurent had produced a variety of impressive, yet daring designs. His replacement, Marc Bohan, was thought to be much more conservative, consistently producing safe designs that he knew would sell adequately. It wasn’t until Victoire de Castellane took over the team in 1998 that the Dior jewellery returned in the daring and risk-taking manner that made the brand so popular initially. Often referred to one one of the best and most innovative jewellery designers of her time, Castellane embraced her new role with open arms, producing extravagant and highly creative costume jewellery.
Right from the get-go, Dior jewellery was incredibly inspired by nature. Since the late 40’s, many of the famous designs have drawn inspiration from an array of animals and floral motifs due to Dior himself spending much of his time in the French countryside. Much like the original Christian Dior, Castellane prefers the feminine design and many of her collections are inspired by the great outdoors.
The latest jewellery collection, designed by Castellane, is named Dior A Versailles; as the name suggests, the entire collection is inspired by the incredible Palace of Versailles. Inspired by the idea of viewing jewellery by candlelight around the palace, the pieces were created with 18th-century jewellery making techniques, taking time to darken the metals to boast a more antique style.
The Hall of Mirrors, hand painted chapel ceilings, and its charming crystal chandeliers were all basis’ for certain pieces in the remarkable collection.
“I found inspiration in various decorative art details within the château itself and was drawn to the influences of the Grand Siècle,” explains Castellane. “I took decorative elements from the walls and ceilings of Versailles and recaptured the ornamental mouldings, bows, ribbons, passementeries, details from the parquet floors, chandeliers, drops, and tassels and had fun de-structuring them.”
Featuring a variety of now-renowned pieces including Galerie des Glaces, Chambre de la Reine, Chambre du Roi and Salon de Mars, the collection reminds wearers of the fabulously flamboyant style of the exceptional Christian Dior himself.
With its unusual compilation of colours, extravagant designs and arguably the greatest gemstone jewellery designers in the world working behind the scenes, it’s not hard to see what makes the Dior brand so impeccably special. Using the most exquisite, sought-after gemstones, Castellane combines garnets and tourmalines with yellow sapphires and pink diamonds, accenting the pieces with rows of other unusual coloured gems. Although they hold incredible value, Castellane works directly with the gems themselves, explaining that she ‘completely forgets the value of the stones’ while she is working. She believes that adopting this technique enables her to produce far grander results, without the worry or ruining expensive gemstones. With no formal training, she works purely by her super-talented eye, just throwing designs together however she sees fit rather than following certain rules and trends; many would believe that this is exactly what makes Dior so special.
Whether you are hoping to pick up a gorgeous piece of extravagant high-end jewellery, or you are just interested in perusing the luxury collection of costume pieces, the collection of Christian Dior jewellery is one that everybody should get the chance to admire.
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