The Paris-based house of Chaumet should not be shrouded in mystery. After all, it has a legendary backstory; wearers have ranged from Napoleon’s beloved Empress Joséphine to Pablo Picasso’s ballerina wife, Olga, to actress Angelina Jolie. It’s a long-time fixture in one of Paris’s most opulent addresses, Place Vendôme. And yet, if you were to name-drop, there’s a fair chance it would be news to your average fashion-phile. “Chaumet had become a sleeping beauty, a much admired and exquisite jewellery house that had nevertheless quietly slipped under the radar over the years,” Jean-Marc Mansvelt, the maison’s CEO, admitted to The New York Times. “When I joined the company, it became my task to wake her up again.” The plan is working: in recent years, the house has attracted new eyes with several jewellery-as-art retrospectives. With the brand’s recent arrival at Maison Birks, its North American debut, it’s time for an education in haute joaillerie, complete with a peek through the archives.
BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT
Chaumet’s earliest publicity boost and regal design inspiration came courtesy of Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine.
The tiara is a Chaumet signature: the house has created more than 3,500 such headpieces in its history, ever since Empress Joséphine embraced it as a status symbol conveying Napoleonic power.
TIME FOR CHANGE
The world modernizes and Chaumet reflects the zeitgeist as its designers experiment with everything from
art deco to surrealism.
CALL OF NATURE
Chaumet isn’t all about symbols of power; its other major theme is pretty and pastoral. While the aesthetic approaches have evolved over time, flora and fauna remain perennial inspirations.
Steeped in history—but not stuck in the past—the house’s contemporary aesthetic calls for a fresh look on well-established themes.