Cover Florae Exhibition (Photo: Van Cleef & Arpels)

Combining luxurious gems and diamonds with the natural aesthetic of photographed flora and fauna, the luxury jewellery brand is working together with photographer Mika Ninagawa to curate an exhibition like no other

Luxury jewellery and watchmaking brand Van Cleef & Arpels is celebrating the Japanese sensibility and appreciation for flowers this season with the launch of their newest Florae exhibition in Paris—which is essentially the brainchild of acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Mika Ninagawa.

As summer comes to an end, there is a common sense of sadness and reminiscence in countries with seasonal weather about the passing of another season where flowers were in full bloom and vibrancy. With this attitude in the back of her mind, Ninagawa channeled this communal theme of longing for the extension of the season in her artistic direction for this exhibition.

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In the conception of this exhibition, Ninagawa was given complete artistic freedom by the brand to explore the fleeting beauty of nature through her spellbinding photographs, with her work presented alongside the maison’s floral creations.

“By photographing flowers, I seek to capture and immortalise their fleeting beauty. Nothing lasts forever, so I want to preserve this beauty as it
appears at a precise moment in time. I strive to perpetuate the short-lived radiance of flowers, letting it live on through my photos. Like me, Van Cleef & Arpels is fascinated by nature’s transformations. Seeing how the maison seeks to replicate the movement of flowers in its jewellery inspires me greatly. These pieces and my photographs echo each other in the exhibition. Together, they spark a new fascination for flora,” says Ninagawa.

Within an immersive decor designed by architect Tsuyoshi Tane, over a hundred pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels’ patrimony collection and contemporary jewels commune with the Japanese artist’s brightly coloured photographs.

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The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to a naturalist aesthetic that underscores representations prompted by reality. Emphasis is placed on natural colours and the volume of corollas, as well as the textures and particular features of petals both in the photographs and on jewellery pieces such as the 1937 Mystery Set Peony clip and the Myosotis watch.

The second part focuses on bouquets that exalt the many Van Cleef & Arpels creations from the 1930s and 1940s, and placed with profuse flowerbeds like the flourishing rosebushes the photographer admires.

The concluding space presents a stylized vision of flora with realistic representations of nature through graphic lines, striking blends of colour and a sense of motion. The influence of other artistic worlds, including couture for the Silhouette clips, undeniably shines through.

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One exceptional piece of jewellery that is featured in the exhibition is the Red and White Intertwined Flowers Bracelet of 1924 which is made out of platinum, rubies, emeralds, onyx, yellow and white diamonds. It immediately stands out for its slightly stylised floral motif and outlines a departure from contemporary tastes that nonetheless reflects the symmetrical codes that are dear to the Art Deco movement.

The enduring floral themes also aptly showcases the maison’s technical innovations and stylistic developments in glorifying nature in a world of technology, and their desire to merge the two polarising concepts.

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Since its inception in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn inspiration from nature and flora and Ninagawa shares the maison’s fascination for flowers in her expertise on colour, and she strives to capture the beauty and singularity of flowers like dahlias, roses and cherry blossoms that are present in the exhibition's photographs.

President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Nicolas Bos said, “The maison loves highlighting affiliations between its jewellery creations and the work of artists who draw from the same sources of inspiration. That is the case for Mika Ninagawa and flowers. The uniqueness of her photographs lies in her immersive approach. Rather than focusing on a particular detail, she creates an overarching universe made up of images that plunge viewers into the heart of nature.”

The enchanting photographs and jewellery pieces will be on display from September 10 to November 14 at Hôtel d’Évreux, on Place Vendôme in Paris.

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