By Estelle Arielle Bouchet
With Claire Choisne appointed as creative director to Place Vendôme’s original jewellery house, Boucheron has executed a surprising shift in direction with a joyful union between tradition and modernity.
Before joining Boucheron, the 35-year-old spent a decade as creative studio manager at bespoke jeweller Lorenz Bäumer (himself artistic director of haute joaillerie for Louis Vuitton). Since taking on the new role, Choisne has not given interviews, instead immersing herself in the Boucheron universe – feeding her creativity in the precious archives; history described by the symbols of the main dynasties of the Orient and Occident, through wonderful drawings depicting pieces, stones, and parures (sets of matched jewellery).
From this symbolic heritage Claire has succeeded in developing her own vision, in harmony with the Boucheron brand in terms of excellence and savoir-faire. The creative approach is adventurous and fearless – a collection made of Boucheron reminiscences, giving birth to a very Parisian new Art Nouveau.
In parallel with her arrival, the appointment of Pierre Bouissou as CEO in 2011 provided Boucheron with a happy renaissance. Pierre Bouissou joined Boucheron from LVMH where he served most recently as managing director of Berluti. Prior to Berluti, he served as business unit manager of the beauty and skincare products at Parfums Christian Dior. He had no difficulty moving into the world of haute joaillerie. For him, it was an exciting challenge right from the start. Oryx Premium joined Pierre Bouissou and Claire Choisne in Paris to talk about Boucheron’s high jewellery collection L’Artisan du Rêve (Artisan of the Dream), to catch the spirit of what this Dream is about, and the company’s much-talked about return to the Biennale des Antiquaires.
Pierre Bouissou, one would assume you have taken on the managerial and business aspects, while Claire drives the creative role, or is it more complicated than that?
PIERRE BOUISSOU: As CEO of Boucheron, my duty is to reinforce the foundations established by Frédéric Boucheron, whilst respecting its heritage, expertise, and savoir-faire. I will be developing the Maison with various teams to an even higher level of excellence.
My experience in leading heritage, luxury businesses will help me to strengthen Boucheron, ensuring it remains true to its identity, whilst being fresh and contemporary.
Our first steps include returning to our roots and embracing the spirit of Frédéric Boucheron. As our efforts to date have shown, focusing on key lines, such as our iconic Quatre rings, has been a great success. We also have an exciting store opening at the end of this year. We have recently taken full control of our retail operation in Hong Kong, and we will open a new store and an office to help us develop our presence across the Asia Pacific region.
CLAIRE CHOISNE: My mission as creative director is to design contemporary pieces inspired by Boucheron’s historical identity, and its iconic codes. When I arrived 10 months ago, I spent a lot of time in Boucheron’s archives in order to get familiar with its style, technique, and craftsmanship. I then exchanged ideas with Pierre, and we created the collection L’Artisan du Rêve, a collection that celebrates life. The past creations with their exceptional quality and technical innovation were an inspiration for each piece of the collection, which I reinterpreted with a modern, contemporary touch.
Claire, having been responsible for the Lorenz Båumer creative studio meant you could be very modern, very anti-conformist. Did these qualities become drawbacks when you moved to a traditional and well-established jewellery house?
CLAIRE CHOISNE: My past experiences helped me to develop my creativity. With archives as rich as Boucheron’s, it can only serve as an exceptional inspiration for contemporary creations. This is not a burden, but rather an excellent starting point.
The Lierre de Paris set, for example, is inspired by the ivy motif created by Frédéric Boucheron. These ivy leaves are now growing through the cobblestones of Paris, symbolised by the rough diamonds. This collection perfectly shows that it is possible to create a link between the past and the present.
Pierre, which values did Frédéric Boucheron embody that are still alive in Boucheron’s modern creations?
PIERRE BOUISSOU: Frédéric Boucheron is the forerunner of French high jewellery! He knew how to create strong codes for Boucheron, codes on which we draw now. He was the first contemporary jeweller to move to the famed Place Vendôme as early as 1893.
He was recognised for his innovative spirit at the 1867 Universal Exhibition, winning a gold medal for the creation of the question mark necklace, a necklace without a clasp, in 1889, amongst many other rewards that he obtained throughout his life. Each piece of the collection draws upon this history of innovation and outstanding craftsmanship.
Claire, could you describe in a few words the ‘DNA’ of the fine jewellery collections?
CLAIRE CHOISNE: The DNA of the collection is the DNA of Boucheron. In order to understand what makes a piece of jewellery a Boucheron creation, I spent a lot of time in the Maison’s archives. To me, a Boucheron creation is feminine, such as the question mark necklace; voluminous yet light, such as the Bouquet d’Ailes necklace; audacious like the Lierre de Paris necklace with its use of rough diamonds; and mysterious as the Nature de Cristal set demonstrates. A Boucheron creation not only has a beautiful design, but also a perfect technique behind its conception, and exceptional stones thanks to our gemmology expert, Thierry Robert.
Boucheron will be present at the next Biennale des Antiquaires in September 2012, to exhibit the high jewellery collection.Why this choice?
PIERRE BOUISSOU: The Biennale des Antiquaires is a place that celebrates our profession. With its great creativity, the collection L’Artisan With its great creativity, the collection L’Artisan du Rêve pays tribute to the expertise of the Maison by deploying all of its talents. This collection embodies our reason for being: to create emotions. For our higher aesthetic pleasure, let’s allow ourselves to play the game and dream – admiring these Boucheron masterpieces at Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris and to appreciate how much dream can sometimes become a reality like in the most fantastic stories…
Note – Biennale des Antiquaires takes place every two years at Grand Palais-Paris, gathering the best jewellery Houses and international Antique Galleries. This interview was conducted just before the opening of the biennale.
[EAB Press & Image]