Victoire de Castellane Talks Dior’s New Jewels-------
Victoire de Castellane, the cerebral artistic director of Dior Joaillerie, has taken a new approach to high jewelry this season. The collection’s name, ArchiDior, plays on French shorthand for “architecture,” as well as a familiar term for “extreme.” So what does that tell us about the house’s latest jewels, a selection of which debut exclusively here? For starters, de Castellane turned away from the flora that so often informs her wares, and instead focused on the structural details found in Dior’s pristine garments of past and present. In the run-up to couture week, the designer took a moment to talk with Style.com about her childlike approach to design, rings that boast a thousand stones, and what sets this high-wattage collection apart from its predecessors.
What were the inspirations behind this new collection?
I started with a theme, Dior couture, and above all the idea of construction in fabric, which I adapted to gold. For Dior, I usually work with nature-inspired themes like roses, flowers, and so on. But this time I wanted to look at the work Dior did in his collections. Most of all, I had read that [when Dior was young] he wanted to be an architect. In some of his collections, he was really building constructions that were translated as cuts, pleats, geometry, and asymmetrical shapes. I thought it would be interesting to take those ideas and work them in metal, which is nothing at all like fabric.
Did you start with one iconic piece, or was it more abstract?
It was the lines: the Bar jacket was an inspiration, but so were the Ailée, Milieu du Siècle and Corolle lines, and such dresses as the Songe (haute couture, Spring/Summer 1947) and the Junon (Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1949), among others.
How did you translate those garments and shapes into jewelry?
I like to injecting an idea and then working around it. There’s a point of departure, but it’s light, and it builds from there. ‘Literal’ is not my style; imagination takes over, and when you see the final piece you forget about [the inspiration] because every single one of them looks different depending on the angle from which you view it. For the Junon earrings, I set diamonds in black gold because I wanted to capture just the festive spirit of the dress, which is covered with paillettes. When it came to the Bar jacket, I designed a bracelet that’s cinched with an emerald and diamond baguettes on the ‘belt’ part. I reversed that same scheme for the ring, using a diamond and emerald baguettes. I incorporated the idea of the Miss Dior dress from Raf Simon’s first haute couture collection, which was covered in multicolored sequins like an Impressionist painting. So I took all the colors on that dress and adapted them to this bracelet. It’s a mix of modern couture colors and the Bar suit by Mr. Dior. At the same time, I wanted to give it my personal touch and slightly different volumes.
How do you reconcile architecture with movement?
Every dress moves in a certain way, but that aspect is just a detail in the final piece. The rest is asymmetrical, as if each piece were actually many jewels in one. Each face is always different.
Whimsy is one of your hallmarks. How does that come through in ArchiDior?
There’s a childlike feeling to the collection because I always work in a very spontaneous way. The technique is controlled, but I always forget my real age—when I’m working I feel like I’m five! There’s always joy. I can never work with something that bores me.
What did you want to express with this collection?
I wanted to show how I work with figurative abstraction. I felt like I was exploring something that I had never done at Dior before, which was the mastery of curves, working outside of vegetal themes, and mixing unusual colors. Everyone does “couture” jewelry. It’s quite classic to depict animals and flowers. With ArchiDior, I wanted to create something new that had never been done this way. That’s why I thought it was really interesting to start with Dior dresses. And it was a real challenge. Some of our craftsmen with forty years of experience behind them found certain pieces so complex and spectacular that it took a year and a half to complete them. That’s what happened with the Ailée bracelet. And lots of rings have a thousand stones in them. There are so many incredible stories behind these pieces.
What’s the balance between the influence of Mr. Dior, that of Raf Simons, and your own vision?
It’s hard to say—all three are there, but it’s complicated. The foundations are Mr. Dior, there are Raf’s colors because he has a very special palette, there’s my taste, there’s what’s happening in couture now… it’s impossible to quantify. Ultimately, I think that’s something people will judge for themselves.