Benjamin Millepied and Nicolas Bos, President & CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels
Almost fifty years after the first performance of Jewels - George Balanchine’s ballet inspired by the jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels - the Maison is once again taking part in an exceptional collaboration in the field of dance: a long-term partnership with L.A Dance Project, the collective founded by Benjamin Millepied. In May 2013, at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the French dancer and choreographer staged Reflections, a new work born out of his encounter with the High Jewelry Maison.
Featuring a score composed for the occasion by David Lang and a set and costumes designed by the American artist Barbara Kruger, it presents Benjamin Millepied’s vision of precious stones.
Three unique ballerina clips in white gold and diamonds
To celebrate this partnership, Van Cleef & Arpels presented three unique clips in the ballerina and fairy tradition so dear to the Maison. In white gold and diamonds, these dancers are remarkable for their graceful, ethereal lines and sparkling simplicity. While one of them stands out for the gossamer lightness of her dress - with its delicate honeycomb motif - the other two pieces capture all the elegance of a dance step frozen in time. With these slender silhouettes, Van Cleef & Arpels once more translates the ephemeral beauty of movement into gold and precious stones.
Steps of creation of the ballerina clip in white gold and diamonds
True miniature sculptures, these pieces have been designed from the outset as three-dimensional female figures. The entire silhouette is carefully shaped: the waist, the bust, the varying contours of the arms and the legs, discernible thanks to the transparent effect of an openwork tutu. The attention to detail extends to the rear of the piece: as finely worked as the front, it is crowned by an elegant chignon that sparkles with diamonds.
Ballerina necklace, transformable into bracelet, in white gold and diamonds
As a tribute to Reflections, Van Cleef & Arpels revisited one of its emblematic creations: the Zip necklace. The Maison has created a brand new piece whose tassel, depicting a ballerina seen from above, provides a clear reference to the world of dance. With her arms extended gracefully, the dancer is haloed by a skirt of glittering diamonds.
Steps of creation of the Ballerina necklace, transformable into bracelet, in white gold and diamonds
A masterpiece of ingenuity, the Zip necklace is without doubt one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most daring creations. Its story begins in the late 1930s, when the Duchess of Windsor - one of the Maison’s leading customers - suggested to Renée Puissant, Artistic Director and daughter of the founding couple, that the zip fastener could provide the inspiration for a piece of jewelry. Crafted in round and baguette-cut diamonds mounted in platinum, the necklace was not produced until 1951. An outstanding technical achievement, it soon achieved iconic status. The necklace is distinguished by its ability to be worn in two different ways: either opened as a necklace or closed as a bracelet, epitomizing the Maison’s taste for innovative and transformable designs.
Danseuse Espagnole clip, 1941, Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection
For Van Cleef & Arpels, ever sensitive to grace and harmony, dance has long been an important source of inspiration. The Maison’s first ballerina clips were created in New York in the 1940s at the prompting of Louis Arpels. Not long afterwards, a decisive encounter reinforced the Maison’s links with the world of dance. Settled in New York since 1939, Claude Arpels met the well-known choreographer George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet. Their shared passion for gems blossomed into an artistic partnership that gave rise to Balanchine’s ballet Jewels. Today, the duet continues thanks to this collaboration with Benjamin Millepied, who was principal dancer with the New York City Ballet before creating L.A Dance Project in 2012.