All text, and images © 2014, Debra Healy
unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Part 3, Boucherone 26 Place Vendôme

Image  Boucheron,Gilles Neret,1988

In 1858 Frederic Boucheron (1830-1902) opened his first Jewelry Salon in the Palais Royal.

 Image Archives secretes, Vincent Meylan, editions Telemaque, 2009

Boucheron Necklace 1899, for Mary-Louise McKay the wife of the
American silver prospector and millionaire  John McKay.

The Jewelry of Frederic Boucheron was imaginative and daring. He attracted some of the wealthiest and most notorious clients of his day.  The grace, fluidity, and proportions of the 19th century Boucheron diamond pieces were remarkable.
Following are a few examples of historic works by Boucheron.

 Image Christie's
Boucheron 1898,  Corsage ornament, diamond leaves set in silver over gold
opalescent and transparent pink plique-a-jour enamel blossoms.

Image Belle Epoque of French Jewellery 1850-1910
Thomas Heneage & Co Limited, London 

Engraved diamond and ruby bee brooch, 1894
the wings are mounted on springs, they tremble, the effect is dazzling.
Image Belle Epoque of French Jewellery 1850-1910
Thomas Heneage & Co Limited, London

This Bocheron Pansy watch,1890-95, is silver-gilt, made with sapphires,
demantoid,  spessartine, and hessonite garnets, amethysts and diamonds.

 Boucheron's unique diamond question mark spring necklaces,
this one designed by head designer Paul Legrand 1882

 Frederic Boucheron eventually worked with his own in-house designers an craftsmen. 
In 1893 Boucheron has the distinction of being the first jeweler to set up shop in the Place Vendome.
At 26 Place Vendôme, where they are still located today.
Boucheron exhibited in many of the international expositions. The Philadelphia centennial 1876.
Paris exposition universelles1889, and 1900. The Chicago Colombian exposition of 1893.

Perfume bottle, 1895

Chalcedony, emeralds,diamonds set in silver with a gold bell
the head tips back to reveal the scent bottle

Boucheron Brooch 1900, gold, pliqu-a-jour enamel, aquamarine, rubies, opal, chrysoberyls.
Image Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry Simon& Schuster, 2003

Image  Boucheron,Gilles Neret,1988
Brooch exhibited in 1925 at the Exposition Des Arts Decoratifs

In the 1930's Boucheron attracted the new royalty, the movie stars of Hollywood.

Joan Crawford (1905-1977)
Images Archives secretes, Vincent Meylan, editions Telemaque, 2009
Boucheron parure for Joan Crawford, gold aquamarines, and diamonds.
In the late 1980's I met Alain Boucheron several times. He came to New York to borrow  Boucheron  pieces from the collector I worked for. These were some of the finest pieces ever made by the house. 

In 2000 Boucheron was  acquired by the Gucci group  who were then acquired by  PPR.

Who is Boucheron today?

During the early days of the acquisition of Boucheron, the Gucci group was under the over all design direction of Tom Ford who had revitalized the Gucci brand.   Mr. Ford is a consummate fashion professional, but he was not a jewelry professional. He appointed the trendy Londoner, Solange Azagury Partridge, as creative director. I met Solange many years ago in London when she worked for my friend Gordon Watson in sales at his gallery.  She has no formal training in Jewelry, but worked with Gordon’s wonderful collection of 20th century jewelry and decorative arts.  I do not know what she did at Boucheron or how  it translated into bottom line sales. The Gucci group has since been acquired by PPR, Tom Ford has been long gone, 
and Boucheron presently seems some what confused. 

There have been  several one-off design stints in recent years. 
From within the PPR stable drawn from Alexander McQueen, is McQueen's  favorite
 jeweler, Shaun Leane. Leane  was chosen to design a necklace to commemorate Boucheron's 150th year of business.  I like Mr. Leane's work it highly identifiable as "Leane",  like post-modern crown of thorns, but is it "Boucheron"? 
Image  Wallpaper, the necklace closed, and open.
What is the Boucheron style in the 21st Century? 

Image WWD
Marc Newson, the renowned product designer, created a mathematically generated fractal necklace. This was an interesting computer-age ultra-modern concept.  Yet it was not incorporated within an overall design and identity strategy.  These individual pieces are like blips on a radar screen.

The current  Haute Joaillerie seems disconnected,  unbalanced,  stiff, and at times quite inelegant.   It is a shame given Boucheron's extraordinary history.

The displays are at times sloppy and incoherent.

Here is a diamond bracelet or watch you can not see!  

Poor presentation.

This is an interesting ring which is very poorly displayed.

The following designs seem unrelated.

If the above pieces were not signed could you identify them as uniquely Boucheron?

In the Boucheron windows I have not seen differentiated style,  iconic products, or a well communicated identity. There appears to be no guiding light directing how to utilize the
brand's heritage and design assets to assert a coherent identity.
The potential of this brand does not appear to be understood or utilized.


Since this article was first published in 2011, PPR owned Boucheron has hired a new president, "creative director" and marketing personal,  the results of which remain to be seen. 

New windows
Place Vendôme January 26, 2012


Miss Meadows said...

Love Boucheron! I would like to see someone create jewelry like that TODAY! Sometimes it feels like that art has been lost forever...

Rachel said...

I'm afraid that the modern photos you posted remind me much more of contemporary Carnet pieces than anything historically Boucheron. I hope their designs are more coherent under the new design team.

lasca sartoris said...

I loved what Solange Azagury Partridge did at Boucheron 10 years ago - the Beauté Dangereuse with the return of the serpent and coloured stones - totally revitalised the brand, taking it back to the key historic motifs and themes - an uncompromising decadence I've always associated with Boucheron.

Recently, especially with the more modern collabs, have been less excited. All seems rather generic - but still by far my favourite 21st century Haute Joaillerie house