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From September 23 to October 20, 2022, the Maison will be presenting its exhibition “The Art of Movement, Van Cleef & Arpels” at the Design Museum in London.
Featuring almost a hundred creations from its patrimonial collection, numerous archive documents and lender masterpieces, the visitor’s journey is divided into four themes: Nature Alive, Dance, Elegance and Abstract Movements.
Each section highlights a facet of movement explored by the Maison since its foundation in 1906.
Whether figurative or stylised, the Maison’s flora and fauna-inspired creations bear witness to its taste for living nature. Dreamlike fairies flit across the sky, filling the air with poetry. Floating on a precious breeze, golden feathers alight on shoulders, Mystery Set flowers blossom on jacket lapels, or prepare to bloom on day or evening dresses. Blossoming roses with their tourmaline corollas seem freshly picked. Like snapshots, the animals that adorn clips and bracelets appear to have been frozen in mid-action.
Over the decades, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn boundless inspiration from the world of dance, an art whose medium of expression is movement. The very specific bond between the Maison and this universe dates back to the 1920s. Ever since, dance has constantly imparted an aura of poetry and a graceful flair into Van Cleef & Arpels' creations. In 2020, the Maison strengthened its commitment to this artistic universe with Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels. Guided by the values of creation, transmission and education, and developed in collaboration with partners from across the world, this initiative expresses the Maison’s desire to support the choreographic heritage, nourish contemporary creation and bring them to the widest possible audience.
Ever since its foundation in 1906 in Paris’ Place Vendôme, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn inspiration from the world of couture both in the pursuit of realism and in the desire to accompany elegant women over the decades. One of the specificities of these jewels is the ability to transform to match different outfits such as the Zip necklace, which can turn into a bracelet. Motifs inspired by passementerie gave rise to pieces that echo the movements of the body. Supreme examples of flexibility, jewels imitating serge fabric or rope mold themselves perfectly to women’s silhouettes.
Attentive to artistic movements throughout the 20th century, the Maison interpreted them in an original way, playing with shapes and materials. From the geometrically-decorated boxes of the 1930s to the pure, rounded lines inspired by Modernism and the kinetic magic of the hippie era, Van Cleef & Arpels has always played with the beholder’s gaze. Abstract yet fun, some works from the 1960s onwards recall Op Art, drawing us into an interplay of illusions, while opulent jewels of the 1970s display sinuous and curvy designs, evoking the era’s spirit of freedom.
To display this rare set of creations, the scenography echoes the theme of movement. Welcoming visitors at the entrance, a floating matte ribbon takes the shape of an ethereal flower. Unfolding to guide visitors on their journey throughout the four themes of the exhibition, this anamorphosis is inspired by the Silhouette Flower clip, an emblematic design imagined by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s.