Why Van Cleef & Arpels' Zip Necklace is Known as One of its Most Innovative Creations
Among Van Cleef & Arpels many iconic designs, the Zip Necklace is celebrated as one of the most innovative creations in the universe of high jewellery. By pulling the Zip Necklace to a close, it readily transforms into an elegant bracelet. It truly captures the essence of the avant-garde fashion movement in the early 20th century, as haute couture experimented with new silhouettes and constructions with the help of the humble zipper.
Legend has it that the idea for this bold and daring design came from the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, who captivated the world with her bold and daring romance with King Edward VIII. Fascinated by this new fixture in modern 1930s clothing, she suggested the concept to Renée Puissant, the daughter of Van Cleef & Arpels’ founding couple and then maison’s artistic director.
And for the next few decades, Puissant and her close collaborator, René-Sim Lacaze, embarked on a journey to bring this piece to life.
In 1950, Van Cleef & Arpels finally unveiled the Zip Necklace. An expression of the meticulous craftsmanship of master jewellers and stone setters at the maison, it was the articulation technique that ensured that the tiny hooks bordering the two gold ribbons interlaced with beauty and precision when transforming the Zip Necklace into an elegant bracelet.
Incorporating twisting lines of diamonds, elements of filigree lacework, and delicate tassels of precious stones, this recreation of the zipper serves as a trompe-l’œil or illusion of luxurious fabric draping gracefully across the neck and wrists—an homage to the world of couture.
Since its debut in the world of high jewellery, the Zip Necklace has been loyally revisited to capture the mood and style of each era. From the geometric symmetry of the European Art Deco movement to the rise of long, slender silhouettes and understated elegance in the early 21st century, this pioneering design by Van Cleef & Arpels enraptures the world of high jewellery at every reinvention.