Victoire de Castellane, the creative director of Dior Fine Jewellery, tells Isabel Lloyd about her obsession with flowers both natural and unnatural ...
From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Winter 2008
Your jewellery so often features strange, almost mythical flower shapes; in the past you’ve said that you create these designs “with a child’s eye”. So which are the flowers that snagged your interest when you were young?
The first I remember were roses: kitsch tea roses with tightly wrapped petals, like cake decorations. But I didn’t like them; they weren’t chic. I liked daisies, though. Their petals had a very naive shape, and a happy, cartoonish quality. But I’ll tell you something--when I was small, I hated flowers. I hated the fact that when you got given one, three days later it died. Eventually, they always left you. That’s why I love to make flowers in jewellery, to fix them in eternity. That way, they can never die.
How difficult, technically, is it to make a flower-shape?
It is not so much creating the shape that is hard; it is that I like to make my flowers alive. The petals have to move. When I was growing up, my wealthy grandmother had a lot of jewellery which she would play with while she talked; I found the little, colourful noises it made, the shininess as it moved, very comforting. Now if I make a flower ring, I want it to move like that, to do what it wants on a woman’s hand; I like the idea that you can’t quite control it. So I’ll put a jewellery movement--a tremblant, say, or a little tiny hinge--into a piece so that it opens and closes, and does things that are unexpected. So with my Milly Carnivora flower rings, for example, I made the petals open and close; I wanted you to feel that if you put one on your finger it might eat an insect.
That doesn’t sound quite real.
No, I always like to add something artificial. So I take the real colours of petals, but I make them fluorescent, flashy, lacquered, like nature but gone crazy. I like people to look at someone who’s wearing one of my pieces and think “Maybe it’s plastic? Maybe it’s costume jewellery?” That for me is real luxury--when only you know it’s real.
Would you be happy to find flowers like yours growing in a garden?
Yes, of course! Every day my work makes me happy, because I get to imagine mad things that don’t yet exist, and then I go and make them real. So I would love my crazy carnivorous flowers to become alive; I would be perhaps a little frightened by them, but I would love them, and I would be sure to visit them every day and give them something to eat.
And would you feed them insects?
Oh no: candies. Bright, colourful candies.
Picture Credit: Swami Stream (via Flickr)
(Isabel Lloyd is assistant editor of Intelligent Life)