Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Women's Fashion / Inner Chic

Van Cleef & Arpels

Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and illustrated by Robert Beck, this column focuses on life in Paris, pepped up by its chic insiders

Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels Illustration by Robert Beck

Darling Santa Sugar Daddy, please hop on your reindeer, find the right private collector in Los Angeles and steal this Van Cleef & Arpels emerald collar...

Darling Santa Sugar Daddy – in my mind he’s loaded – please hop on your reindeer, find the right private collector in Los Angeles and steal this Van Cleef & Arpels emerald collar. I mean the one that separates into two cuffs and once belonged to that dastardly diva – Daisy Fellowes.

Oh, to have pots of money, smother myself in Van Cleef’s baubles – as seen at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs exhibition – then strike a Donatella Versace-like pose by wearing it all on the beach. Ok perhaps not Rio! But with the real stuff, I actually think more is more which, no doubt, explains my deep seated admiration for Queen Marguerite of Denmark who, from her lobes to her neck to her satin dress sash, blinks in defiant fashion. Others may say walking Christmas Tree, but I say bring on the centuries of royal looting!

"I have a deep seated admiration for Queen Marguerite of Denmark who, from her lobes to her neck to her satin dress sash, blinks in defiant fashion"

As for the Van Cleef show, count on rooms filled with their signature cascade earrings, feather clips, zip necklaces, priceless minaudières displaying well-edited decades of craftsmanship, all achieved in their venerable Place Vendome workshop. I’ve been there and even seen their famous ‘mysterious settings’ being applied to a ruby ring. Still, nothing was quite as exciting as my morning spent at Van Cleef’s School. I signed up for the ‘reading the stones’ course, and it became a case of touching rough emeralds and diamonds, understanding the depth of their history and learning that the five Cs in gemology stand for carat, clarity, colour, cut and character. Thoroughly engrossed, the four hours flew past. And, if I can be trite, t’was a gem of an experience!

Van Cleef & Arpels: L’art de la haute joaillerie is at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs until February 10 2013.

Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.

Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradise, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.

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