Louis Vuitton's Latest High Jewellery Collection Celebrates History's Bravest Women
It may be one of the most beautiful cities on earth, famed for its Gothic spires, cobbled streets and winding rivers, but that hasn’t stopped Prague from being passed over by the fashion set for Europe’s more famous capitals—until this year, that is, when it found itself in the spotlight.
Louis Vuitton launched its Riders of the Knights high jewellery collection during summer at Troja Palace, a baroque castle north of Prague that’s filled with mythological elements and trompe l’oeil surprises.
There could be few places as evocative for the launch of a collection that pays tribute to the inner strength of medieval women who transcended society’s constraints to forge their own destinies. These women made a lasting mark on the difficult world they lived in, shaping their fates through bravery, determination and independence—all traits possessed by the Louis Vuitton woman.
To pay homage to such strong women, Louis Vuitton’s new artistic director for watches and jewellery, Francesca Amfitheatrof, has created an exquisite collection that’s fresh and contemporary. “The collection is about these extraordinary medieval heroines who changed the course of history through the force of their strength and will. I capture the idea of strength through big chains, armour, amulets and even swords,” she says, as she points to a set of medieval sword brooches. “Yes, it is indeed quite a shift in aesthetics for Louis Vuitton jewellery, but no doubt the pieces maintain the codes very much identified with Louis Vuitton’s jewellery.”
Amfitheatrof works around the concept of a suit of armour made of dazzling stones—a “suit” that expresses the inner radiance of its wearer. Created from tens of thousands of exceptional gemstones, these pieces of exquisite jewellery deserve to find a place in some of the world’s most famous design museums—as well as your jewellery drawer.
One notable creation showcases a velvety royal-blue sapphire weighing 19.31 carats set against a luminescent mesh woven with an astounding 1,600 diamonds. Called the Royaume necklace, it has refined, architectural lines reminiscent of the design components of a medieval fortress—think portcullis, chains and a drawbridge.
Its shape is also inspired by the gorget, a delicate piece of armour designed to protect the throat, and is remarkable for its detailed enamelling and the refined way it drapes against the skin. The richly vibrant sapphire—a gem that has been a symbol of all things regal since antiquity—takes centre stage to symbolise the protection of the kingdom.
In another equally exquisite piece, the Cavalière necklace, a precious gem that symbolises ardour and courage, the spinel, is the star of the show. Here it is cut to contrast with diamonds. Spinels are distinctive for their deep red colour infused with flashes of orange.
Then there is an amulet featuring a magnificent medallion crafted from lapis lazuli and set with an exquisite emerald. The lapis lazuli is highly polished to a silky finish, setting off the emerald’s brilliance and showcasing the lapidary’s skill. A set of round and baguette-cut diamonds frame the emerald, further enhancing the intensity of the central stone.
The amulet comes with a contemporary, multi-strand necklace set with emeralds, diamonds and sapphires, and a sautoir necklace with edgy chain links set with more sapphires. This is eminently wearable high jewellery, not the kind that spends its life locked away in a safe, and looks equally magnificent matched with a ball gown or a white shirt and jeans.
Amfitheatrof really makes a mark with Riders of the Knights, the first high jewellery collection she has designed for Louis Vuitton. It’s fresh, edgy and upends the perception that high jewellery is only to be worn on extravagant high-brow occasions. And surely, the pieces will suit the Joans of Arc and Medicis of today immaculately.