In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Vuitton, the French luxury house has launched Bravery, a glittering ode to the house’s founder and his legacy. The statement-making high jewellery collection, created by Louis Vuitton artistic director for jewellery and watches Francesca Amfitheatrof, is divided into nine chapters, each one chronologically marking key moments in Vuitton’s life and aesthetic.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Vuitton, founder of one of the most iconic fashion houses in the world, but whose own life and rise still remains very much a mystery. Bravery, Louis Vuitton’s dazzling new high jewellery collection, sets to change that, via a collection of exquisite one-off gems oozing with key codes of the house, from monograms to travel trunks. “It’s a collection where you walk alongside Mr Louis Vuitton,” says Francesca Amfitheatrof, the house’s artistic director of watches and jewellery. “It’s a very linear, chronological collection that takes you through the history of what he created in his lifetime.”
Set over nine distinct chapters, Bravery opens with La Constellation D’Hercule, which marks the birth of Vuitton in France’s sleepy Jura mountains, a starry night sky finding expression in a rich array of tanzanites, tsavorites and opals. The composition feels almost mystical, especially a necklace of 11 tanzanites, 12 opals and nine tsavorites that are sprinkled with 16 diamonds cut into the Louis Vuitton star logo – a custom cut that makes a cameo throughout this collection.
The next chapter is L’Élan Vital, a term originally coined by the French philosopher Henri Bergson and author of the 1907 book Creative Evolution – and which, in Amfitheatrof’s words: “is this notion of a characteristic within that makes you different from everyone else. It’s your spirit and soul – something that is obviously untouchable.” Amfitheatrof channels this in diamond jewels that reflect DNA and ropes, the latter a regular feature on Louis Vuitton trunks. Supple and full of movement, the gems include sensual long earrings topped-and-tailed with pompoms set with star diamonds, and rings that recall nautical rope.
The L’Aventure chapter heralds Vuitton’s departure for Paris, age 12 – a journey that would normally take two weeks by foot, but which is two years for Mr Vuitton, who takes odd jobs along the way, developing his eye and craft. “He grows from the young boy into the young man that arrives in Paris,” says Amfitheatrof, who has crafted a suite of seven emerald and diamond jewels. The hero piece is a multiwear, triple strand necklace complemented by three standout diamonds: a 5.21ct pear shape, 3ct Louis Vuitton cut flower, and a 1.62ct round – not to mention more than 28 emeralds totalling 13 carats.
La Flèche, or arrow, expands on this life-changing journey, the graphic symbol a magnetic force directing Vuitton to Paris but also representing his drive and determination. Sapphires and diamonds – and of course the V shape – make their way into wonderful earrings or an exquisite ring with a 18.62ct octagonal-cut sapphire.
Le Mythe – followed by La Passion, La Star du Nord and Le Tumbler chapters – encapsulates Vuitton’s arrival in Paris and ultimately the creation of an incredible legacy. Most standout is a three strand necklace that embodies all the codes of the house, from the dog-collar top strand fashioned from custom-cut diamonds that recall leather straps, and the diamond-studded middle strand evoking the nails set along Louis Vuitton trunks, to the rope-like third strand which pays homage to the house’s Damier pattern and monograph logos – and all set with gobstopper size sugar-loaf stones (two sapphires and an emerald).
Vuitton’s passion is further captured in a suite of mesh-like diamond gems punctuated with fiery rubies, as a magnificent necklace topped with a 10ct LV cut star diamond – which is rakishly set off centre – can be removed and worn on a V-shape ring. Finally Le Tumbler is a jolt of colour, where a rainbow medley of stones is topped with cool, mesmerising aquamarine, set into gem-set clasps that function just like the house padlock.
“At Vuitton we bring the engineering into the design,” says Amfitheatrof of the clasp. “It doesn’t need to be hidden. It can be center stage – strong, but also beautiful. It’s true to what Vuitton is – that you’re not pretending that it’s something else.” Which is exactly what Bravery is: unmistakably and unapologetically Louis Vuitton.