Cate Blanchett visits a gem of an exhibition in Singapore

23 04 2016

A gem of an exhibition – literally, Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems, opens at the ArtScience Museum today.  Brought in by the famed Parisian house of high jewellery, with the participation of the French National Museum of Natural History, the drool-worthy exhibition see over 400 of Van Cleef & Arpels’ exquisite works of love as well as 250 minerals from the Natural History Museum’s extensive collection.

Model of the Varuna Yacht, c. 1907.

Model of the Varuna Yacht, c. 1907.

Founded in 1906, the Maison’s beginnings is in itself a work of love, following on the 1895 marriage of Estelle Arpels – the daughter of a dealer in precious stones to Alfred Van Cleef, the son of a lapidary and diamond broker. Together with Estelle’s brothers, they opened their first boutique at 22 Place Vendôme – an address that the house maintains to this day in serving a clientele that has over the years included the likes of Maharajahs, Queens, Princes and Princesses.

A replica of the crown created by the Maison for the coronation of Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

A replica of the crown created by the Maison for the coronation of Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

The house’s rich history is one of the main themes of the exhibition, an introduction to which is given to visitors as they enter. The entrance is also where one of the Maison’s iconic pieces and one of my favourite pieces at the exhibition, a pendant with a flying bird carrying a huge 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer and socialite, Gianna Walska, is showcased. The piece, commissioned by the then new owner of the diamond in 1971 to celebrate the birth of her son, adorned the cover of the Van Cleef & Arpels catalogue in 1972, where it was seen flying over the Place Vendôme. The piece is also transformable – a feature in many of the house’s pieces with the bird becoming a pair of winged earrings and the diamond worn as a pendant.

An iconic masterpiece, Van Cleef and Arpels' Bird Clip and Pendant, which features a 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer Gianna Walska, greets visitors to the exhibition.

An iconic masterpiece, Van Cleef and Arpels’ Bird Clip and Pendant, which features a 96.62 carat yellow diamond once owned by Polish opera singer Gianna Walska, greets visitors to the exhibition.

Beyond the bird that flew over the Place Vendôme, the exhibition proper is arranged across eight galleries, which are all full of delight and discovery, seven of which have displays of Van Cleef and Arpels’ creations arranged according to seven themes: Couture, Abstractions, Influences, Precious Objects, Nature, Ballerinas and Fairies and Icons.   Each gallery also contains a parallel exhibition relating to the science of precious stones and feature gems and minerals from the French National Museum of Natural History’s renowned collection. These are arranged according to eight themes, representing the Earth and the seven major principles critical to the formation of precious stones: Pressure, Temperature, Transport, Water, Oxygen, Life and Metamorphism.

A 21,560 carat blue topaz crystal from the French National Museum of Natural History's collection.

A 21,560 carat blue topaz crystal from the French National Museum of Natural History’s collection.

One of the largest uncut black diamonds to be found.

Also from the French National Museum of Natural History’s collection – one of the largest uncut black diamonds to be found.

A diamond encrusted in a stone.

A diamond encrusted in a stone.

Amongst the seven galleries, one that I found particularly interesting was Influences in which the fascination Europe had with the orient that started in the 1920s, is seen in the pieces on display – some of which are very recent creations.

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Griffon Clip, 1971 with amethysts, coral, emeralds, diamonds on gold.

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Dragon vanity case, 1923.

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Dragon mystérieux clip, 2013 featuring garnets, emeralds, Mystery set rubies, sapphires and diamonds on gold.

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Carpe Koi bracelet watch, 2014.

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Table Clock, 1957.

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Egyptian Inspiration Bracelet, 1924, which features sapphires, rubies, emeralds, onyx and diamonds on platinum.

An especially delightful gallery is Ballerinas and Fairies, featuring ballerina clips that were born out of Louis Arpels’ passion for dance dating back to the early 1940s. The dainty and exquisitely crafted clips feature gemstone laden tutus  – which have grown shorter with time. The clips also have very fine details in the rose-cut diamond faces crowned with headrests of precious stones and gemstone dancing shoes.

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The dainty Ballerinas and Fairies clips will delight any visitor.

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Another area worth dwelling (not that the others aren’t) has to be the last gallery, Icons. Here is where several the icons  of the twentieth century ranging from royalty and to stars of the silver screen, have icons of the Maison created for them, displayed. This part of the collection includes several pieces made for the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Faiza of Egypt and starlet turned princess, Grace Kelly of Monaco.

A 1929 collaret created for Princess Faiza of Egypt - on display for the very first time.

A 1929 collaret created for Princess Faiza of Egypt – on display for the very first time.

There are also several programmes being held in conjunction with the exhibition to look forward to including a talk at 2pm today on gemology and artistry. Punlic guided tours are also available on 23, 24, 29, 30 April and 2, 6, 8 13, 15, 20 and 27 May, 3, 10 , 17 and 24 June. A workshop on gemstones is also being held. The exhibition runs until 14 August 2016. More information on the exhibition, as well as a downloadable audio app, can be found at: The Art and Science of Gems website.

A surprise visitor to the exhibition - the beautiful Cate Blanchett.

A surprise visitor to the exhibition – the beautiful Cate Blanchett.

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The wild rose minaudière, 1938, inspired by a cigarette box.

The wild rose minaudière, 1938, inspired by a cigarette box.





Beauty isn’t only skin deep

28 10 2015

There is nothing like the sheer elegance of a well crafted article of leather, especially one that comes from a house that has a long tradition of fine craftsmanship in skins. The house, Hermès, which had its beginnings as a master harness-maker and later as saddlemakers, has just that. Founded in Paris in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the house has come a long way in the business of creating and crafting fine objects of desire from some of the most beautiful skins in the world.

Inside Hermès' wonderful Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place.

Inside Hermès’ wonderful Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place – a rare show of objects from Emile Hermès’ collection which is now a source of inspiration for the house’s designers.

As a treat specially crafted for this jubilee year, the house gives us in Singapore an opportunity to step into the world of fine leather craftsmanship in a exhibition Leather Forever that runs from 25 October to 13 December at the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition, which also includes a prelude to it at the Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place, takes visitors through some of the inspirations behind its creations, to the art and craft of leather working and to the house’s intriguing range of products that include some rather quirky looking items from its Special Orders  Workshop.

A side facing saddle for a woman in the Little Room of Wanders.

A side facing saddle designed to seat a woman in the Little Room of Wanders.

Equestrian objects such as spurs feature in the collection.

Equestrian objects such as spurs feature in the collection.

A intricately decorate trunk from Spain.

A intricately decorated trunk from Spain.

The Little Room of Wanders offers a rare peek into Emile Hermès' collection.

The Little Room of Wanders offers a rare peek into Emile Hermès’ collection.

Especially fascinating is Hermès’ Little Room of Wanders which contains a rare public display of a selection of objects from the incredible collection of Emile Hermès, the grandson of the founder. Emile Hermès, who took over the business in the early 1900s, had spent a lifetime assembling some a 15,000 item collection. Now housed in the private by-appointment-only Emile Hermès Museum, the collection of  objects of art, equestrian objects, ingenious mechanisms, books and the most unusual of knick-knacks has since become a source of inspiration for Hermès’ designers.

A camera shaped flask in the collection.

A camera shaped flask in the collection.

A close-up of a saddle from China.

A close-up of a saddle from China.

A travel case in the collection.

A travel case in the collection.

The exhibition proper, Leather Forever, at the ArtScience Musuem is also well worth a look at. This starts with visitors having a look at some of the background work in Hermès’ creations in its leather reserve seen in the Savoire Faire section. Here an introduction is give to the classification, cutting and assembly of skins. What must certainly be a treat will be a chance to see artisans, flown specially in from the house’s Parisian workshops, at work in recreating some of the house’s iconic leather bags.

An artisan from Hermès' Paris workshop at work at the ArtScience Museum.

An artisan from Hermès’ Paris workshop at work at the ArtScience Museum.

Part of Hermès' Leather Reserve.

Part of Hermès’ Leather Reserve.

A demo of how the leather is prepared for cutting.

A demo of how the leather is prepared for cutting.

Finished objects of desire.

Finished objects of desire.

Speaking of icons, a selection of the house’s range of its legendary Kellys and Birkins, are also conspicuously on show along with variations as well as other leather crafted objects that the house’s icons have inspired. Among the variations of the Kelly, which was re-christened after Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco used it famously to conceal her pregnancy from the paparazzi, or as the house puts it, as a bodyguard for the future Princess Caroline, are five Kellydoll bags on display designed to each represent each decade of Singapore’s independence.

Variations on the legendary Kelly.

Variations on the legendary Kelly.

Horsing around with a rocking Kelly.

Horsing around with a rocking Kelly.

One of the five Kellydoll bags designed to each represent a decade of Singapore's independence.

One of the five Kellydoll bags designed to each represent a decade of Singapore’s independence.

The exhibitions are opened from 10am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday and from 10am to 9pm on Friday and admission is free. More information on them can be found at http://lfe.hermes.com/sg/en.

The first ever bag with a zipper, aka the

The first ever bag with a zipper, aka the “Hermès Fastener,” fitted to it. Emile Hermès held a patent for the zipper which was fitted to a bag designed to be quickly secured for the age of the automobile.

A saddle leather bustier designed Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermès (notice the Kelly inspired straps).

A saddle leather bustier designed Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermès (notice the Kelly inspired straps).

A baseball glove out of the Special Orders Workshop.

A baseball glove out of the Special Orders Workshop.

An apple carrier (complete with knife and holder) on loan from its owner who commissioned it to allow him to carry his apple a day.

An apple carrier (complete with knife and holder) on loan from its owner who commissioned it to allow him to carry his apple a day.

A gift commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for Wallis Simpson, a leather wheelbarrow, inspired by his observation that the duchess already had

A gift commissioned in 1947 by the Duke of Windsor for Wallis Simpson, a leather wheelbarrow, inspired by the Duke’s observation that the duchess already had “wheelbarrows” of fragrances and gloves.

A winged saddle made at Hermès Sellerie workshop.

A winged saddle made at Hermès Sellerie workshop.

Zouzou, a ostrich skin rhino created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré store in 1978 at the entrance to the exhibition.

Zouzou, a ostrich skin rhino created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré store in 1978 at the entrance to the exhibition.

The exhibition gives visitors a chance to horse around.

The exhibition gives visitors a chance to horse around.

A case of miniatures.

A case of miniatures.

A door bolt inspired fastener.

A door bolt inspired fastener.

A flight of fancy on a motorcycle.

A flight of fancy on a motorcycle.

Travel cases from the days when the romance of travel was at its height.

Travel cases from the days when the romance of travel was at its height.

A travel wardrobe.

A travel wardrobe.

A dance inspired leather bag.

A dance inspired leather bag.





美In: Work, Play, Love from Korea

13 05 2014

One of the things maintaining a blog in Singapore does do is the opportunities it does provide to broaden one’s experiences, such as having an opportunity to mingle with a very fashionable crowd at last evening’s launch of a Korean online lifestyle store in the form of Me-In (美In) in Singapore at Zafferano 43 floors on top of the Ocean (Ocean Financial Centre).

'Play' in an outfit from Me-In.

‘Play’ in an outfit from Me-In.

Me-In (美In) in Korean, draws focus to the character 美 that describes beauty, a beauty one is meant perhaps to discover in Me-In’s collection, which is centred on a theme of “Work, Play, Love” intended to have an appeal with the pragmatic modern soul. In the words of the store itself, Me-In is inspired by the young woman who possesses., “It”, an indefinable quality that provides one with absolute attraction without an overt flaunting of sexualityand Me-In hopes to do this and yet at the same time allows for diverse circumstances and situations.

Ms Hyejin Kim, Me-In's Creative Director at the opening of the event showing off a 'Work' outfit that is sophisticated yet informal that reflects a move away from the 'stuffy' office attires once found in the Korean workplace.

Ms Hyejin Kim, Me-In’s Creative Director at the opening of the event showing off a ‘Work’ outfit that is sophisticated yet informal that reflects a move away from the ‘stuffy’ office attires once found in the Korean workplace.

To present the collection was Ms Hyejin Kim, Me-In’s Creative Director, who looked stunning in leading out six Korean models who had flown in for the launch event. Being having not much up there when it does come to fashion sense, I had to seek out the opinions of several fashion bloggers friends who did give the collection a huge thumbs up. More information on Me-In can be found at its online store and website http://www.me-in.kr/english.html.

Ms Kim and the six models flown in for the event showing off Work, Play and Love.

Ms Kim and the six models flown in for the event showing off Work, Play and Love.

Members of the media at work.

Members of the media at work.

Play.

Play.

More play,.

More play.

Three Loves.

Three Loves.

Love, Play and Work.

Love, Play and Work.

Love and Play.

Love and Play.

 

 





Obsessions and flirtations

19 02 2013

I will not pretend to know much or anything at all about Fashion, even though that I did very recently find myself flirting with the obsessions of a Fashion label, Juicy Couture, whose velour track suits gained what could be described as cult status at a presentation of the house’s Spring / Summer 2013 Collection in Singapore.

Flirting with Juicy Couture's Spring and  Summer Collection. A model shows off a dress from the Summer collection.

Flirting with Juicy Couture’s Spring and Summer Collection. A model shows off a dress from the Summer collection.

The label which has been present in the local scene for over 10 years, has outlets at Takashimaya and at Marina Bay Sands. Known for its fresh and playful approach to style, it’s following is primarily from the 18 to 35 year olds. It does also have bright and trendy offerings with an apparel and accessories range for younger girls as well. The label traces it orgins to 1997, having been started by two, “fashion-obsessed friends”, and now has stores in over 30 countries. This includes 126 stores in North America, as well as many across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle-East.

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The label’s Spring looks which has hits the stores here since January this year, is one that is inspired by the flirty, glamorous pin up girls of the 1950s. LeAnn Nealz, the President and Chief Creative Officer of Juicy Couture, described the collection at its debut as a reinterpretation of the spirit of the pin up era and in a modern and fresh way, with “a subtle sexiness carried throughout but still feels Juicy and fun”. The spring collection includes soft silk dresses, rompers, sharp printed blazers, glamorous Juicy Jeans and a new interpretation of the label’s iconic track and also includes accessories such as jewel encrusted leather handbags and pave jewelry.

Juicy Couture's flirty Spring looks - inspired by the pin-up girls of the 1950s.

Juicy Couture’s flirty Spring looks – inspired by the pin-up girls of the 1950s.

The label’s Summer’s looks (available from March 2013) on the other hand, is one that embraces the bohemian spirit for Summer, “full of vibrant sun-kisses, hues in lush fabrications, and relaxed day-to-night dressing taking her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont”. Described as bringing out a “beach-chic” style, the Summer collection is marked by its silk and lace fluid dresses, burnout bright tropical prints and layered beaded jewels. It also has a range of accessories to supplement the look including handbags with signature gold hardware in light washed soft leathers and treated canvas adorned with stud accents; oversized totes and cross body chain bags.

The Summer collection takes her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont.

The Summer collection takes her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont.

The Summer look with a Leni Clutch.

The Summer look with a Leni Clutch.

Also presented was its Juicy Couture Stella and Surfside range of watches. The Stella range is described as sleek siren with sleek, smooth contours and oversized 41 mm case in yellow- or rose-gold-toned stainless steel and is available with a bold link deployment bracelet or an embossed colored leather strap. The new Surfside range is sporty yet elegant with its rubber-coated leather strap or with a glossywhite alligator-embossed leather strap.

Watches from the Stella range.

Watches from the Stella range.

Juicy Couture’s stores in Singapore are located at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, #03-03 and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Galleria Level B1-78.

Accessories - a Rhinestone Chain and Bracelet from the Spring collection.

Accessories – a Rhinestone Chain and Bracelet from the Spring collection.

Aquarius Geo Dress from the Spring collection.

Aquarius Geo Dress from the Spring collection.

The Rope Yarn Jacquard Blazer.

The Rope Yarn Jacquard Blazer.

Attractive looking bangles and bracelets.

Attractive looking bangles and bracelets.

JC's range of fashion accessories includes mobile phone cases.

JC’s range of fashion accessories includes mobile phone cases.

Leather Handbags.

Leather Handbags.

A cotton lycra dress from the kids' wear collection.

A cotton lycra dress from the kids’ wear collection.

The Summer collection features dresses with bright tropical prints.

The Summer collection features dresses with bright tropical prints.


About Juicy Couture

Juicy Couture embraces the bright and glamorous fun of its Los Angeles heritage by discovering the couture in the everyday, and delivering an element of surprise in all of its designs. Famous for ascending the tracksuit to its status as a casual luxury icon, the brand continues to evolve, bringing the same confident, whimsical and feminine attitude to everything it creates. Today, the global phenomenon offers an assortment that spans fashion apparel for women, girls and baby, handbags, shoes, intimates, swimwear, fragrance, accessories, jewelry, sunglasses and small leather goods.

Started by two fashion-obsessed friends in 1997, Juicy Couture quickly achieved global recognition and garnered millions of fans, many with famous faces. In 2003, Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (NYSE: FNP) (formerly Liz Claiborne Inc.) acquired the company, and in 2010, Juicy Couture tapped LeAnn Nealz as Chief Creative Officer and President to guide the brand into its next phase of growth, while preserving the house’s playful and unique DNA.

North America is home to approximately 126 Juicy Couture and Juicy Couture Outlet stores. You can also shop Juicy Couture in select specialty and department stores and at JuicyCouture.com. Internationally, Juicy Couture and Juicy Couture Outlet stores can be found in over 30 different countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Follow Juicy Couture on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and our blog, The Juicy.








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