Jewellery Designer Charlotte Chesnais on Her Enviable New Pearl Collection

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Charlotte Chesnais at MATCHESFASHION, Photographed
Charlotte Chesnais at MATCHESFASHIONPhotographed by Anthony Seklaoui, Styled by Morgan Pilcher

Launching exclusively at Matches Fashion alongside a series of small bronze sculptures, the Paris-based jewellery designer explains her sculptural and instinctive approach to making jewellery as her eponymous brand turns five

  1. Who is it? Paris-based jewellery designer Charlotte Chesnais, whose eponymous brand celebrates its fifth anniversary this year
  2. Why do I want it? Sculptural pieces making for striking, elegant jewellery, with a new collection incorporating pearls for the first time as well as small objects for the home
  3. Where can I get it? Charlotte Chesnais’ pearl and sculpture collection is now available exclusively at Matches Fashion

Who is it? Paris-based jewellery designer Charlotte Chesnais launched her eponymous brand five years ago, having previously trained and worked in ready-to-wear. It was while working at Balenciaga alongside Nicolas Ghesquière during his tenure at the storied house that she tried her hand at designing jewellery. “It was not a mistake, but it was very random,” she says over the phone from Paris. “Nicolas was looking to do some jewellery for a show. There was nobody just doing jewellery at that time in the studio, and he asked if I wanted to try something – it was just a matter of a few bracelets. And that’s how I went to an atelier for the first time, and I spent time there and I designed the collection. I loved it and I never stopped.”

Five years since starting her brand, Chesnais’ jewellery – most often crafted in gold, silver or vermeil – is favoured for its fluid designs, sculptural details and idiosyncratic silhouettes. The fact that Chesnais’ jewellery is often described as sculptural comes as no coincidence: during the design process, she sculpts and moulds ideas by hand, working with a paste or piece of metal, rather than sketching. Rings might wrap around a finger and stretch out across others; earrings loop to form cuffs and weaving forms; and necklaces are built with pendants and varying textures of chains. There is a sturdy elegance to Charlotte Chesnais pieces – one that the designer hopes translates to timeless and wearable jewellery. “It’s always like this in my work – the balance between having a strong design but still very classic, and still very timeless,” she says. “It’s always playing with the limits of two opposites: making sure it’s something very desirable now but [that] you’ll still want to wear it in five years.”

Why do I want it? Having worked with gold, silver and vermeil, as well as small diamonds in her fine jewellery collections, Chesnais’ latest offering sees her embrace a new element: pearls. “I met an amazing supplier who has been looking for pearls all over the world for generations, a family business,” she explains. “I was totally intrigued and now I’m hooked.” The collection launched last week exclusively on Matches Fashion, and sees pearls incorporated into some of Chesnais’ signature shapes and new designs. “I was thinking that if I lose the metal, I’m kind of losing the brand’s identity,” she says of how she brought pearls into the collection. “I wanted to let the pearl take its own space but at the same time continue exploring the DNA of the brand in the collection.”

The highly unique nature of the material was a point of fascination for Chesnais, who found herself drawn to working with baroque pearls. “I love those kinds of pearls because they are not perfect and they are all different,” she says. “I like the fact that everybody will have an individual piece of jewellery in a way because they’re all natural and different pearls.” From silvery baroque pearl pendants to rings set with perfectly round white pearls, the collection showcases both classic and unconventional pieces. “There’s two categories: half of the collection is done in vermeil, and half of the collection is done in gold. Everything that is in gold is one of a kind – for those pieces we used really big and strange and unique pearls,” says Chesnais.

With the pearls comes another first for the brand: Chesnais has designed a series of sculptures for the Matches Fashion collection. Small enough to place on a desk or table, the fluid forms – cast in bronze and produced at the same atelier which makes all of Charlotte Chesnais’ jewellery – mirror the shapes of the jewellery with sweeping lengths of metal. “They are pieces for the home, and this is a category I would love to explore more,” Chesnais explains. “I don’t know if it’s me getting older, but I’m more and more into beautiful objects. For me, jewellery is really the boundary between fashion accessory and object, and I really want to go more in that direction. I’m more interested in beautiful things done really well – especially now that people are stuck at home, it’s more important to have beautiful surroundings.”

The sculptures stem from some originally shown at the Festival d’Hyères in 2019, as “more like a one-of-a-kind project, a personal thing”. The original pieces were like Chesnais’ jewellery, but supersized; the pieces stood at almost a metre tall. “[Matches and I] worked together on a more reasonable size,” she laughs. It marks a natural expansion of the Charlotte Chesnais universe, which the designer hopes might extend to shoes, accessories, and objects for the home alongside future collections. For now, as her brand celebrates its five year anniversary, Chesnais is only looking forward. “I can’t believe it’s been five years already, I’m super super happy. We’re trying to move forward all the time, especially now in this tough moment – now that I’ve been here for five years, I know where I would like to be,” she says. “We are opening our first store in about a month and a half in Paris, which is super exciting. My personality is more like looking forwards than looking backwards – I still want to move forward and have fun in what I do.”

Where can I get it? Charlotte Chesnais’ pearl and sculpture collection is stocked exclusively at Matches Fashion, and further collections can be found at the Charlotte Chesnais e-store.