Louis Vuitton’s Riders of the Knights is a homage to medieval heroines, a journey in time that continues the theme of travel that weaves through the maison’s high jewellery collections. Each of the 50 pieces of jewellery honours the women of the Middle Ages who, in a world ruled by men, took matters into their own hands and made a lasting impact on the world.
There was much speculation around the launch of Riders of the Knights as it is the first high jewellery collection by the new design director Francesca Amfitheatrof. B Blossom, the fine jewellery collection presented in May, hinted at a change of style chez Louis Vuitton with its chunky shapes and bold colours. Riders of the Knights shows a new direction for Louis Vuitton high jewellery yet still in tune with the house codes we have come to recognise from this Place Vendôme jeweller. Described as the ‘embodiment of determination and independence’, remarkable women from the past through these jewels speak to the confident and successful Louis Vuitton woman of today.
Creative Director Francesca Amfitheatrof explains: “Riders of the Knights is about the medieval heroines who changed the course of history through the force of their strength and will. I was thinking of women like Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth of England or Eleanor of Aquitaine. I wanted to capture the idea of strength through chains, armour, amulets and even swords. It is quite a radical change in look for Louis Vuitton jewellery, but the pieces are still very much identifiable as jewellery and of course, we only use the very best gemstones. Louis Vuitton is a strong brand, so it needs a strong look.”
Divided into Le Royaume, La Cavalière and La Reine, the silhouettes of the jewels immediately conjure up the architecture, heraldry and even weapons of the Middle Ages. The colours are opulent and majestic and the forms weighty, imposing and loaded with symbolism. Strong rhythms are forged in bold outsized links that are seamlessly set with diamonds and the most precious of gemstones in rich, deep colours.
One of the most impressive jewels is the Le Royaume necklace shaped like a gorget, or chain mail throat-protector, as worn by knights in battle. The fine mesh is highly flexible and set with 1,600 diamonds and sapphires and a 19.31 carat velvety royal blue sapphire. Regal and potent, the sapphires symbolise purity and protection. Woven into the necklace are yet more references to a medieval fortress: the links of the mesh are shaped to resemble the latticed grille of a portcullis complete with spiked ends and a chunky chain – as you would find on a drawbridge – runs around the bottom of the necklace.
The La Cavalière suite features deep red spinels that symbolise ardour and courage. The spinels are protected by diamond-set links that bring to mind a medieval belt clasp. Showcasing Louis Vuitton’s ability to source the most unusual and exceptional stones, the La Reine necklace is set with nine Santa Maria-like aquamarines with a combined weight of 153 carats. Dazzling and imposing, it speaks of dynastic might and boundless wealth.
A rounded disc of rich blue lapis lazuli the size of a fist is set with a deep green emerald. Suspended from a triple chain of diamonds and sapphires, the talisman-like necklace exudes sovereign power. A sapphire, emerald and diamond ring could equally be worn by a man thanks its robust signet-ring shape and simple gem-setting.
Apart from the outlines of the jewels, Medieval references abound in every jewel. Daggers-set with diamonds decorate the side of a ring, fleur de lys details abound as do triple clubs and even miniature crowns. Look closely and amongst all the details Amfitheatrof has clever worked in the iconic star monogram and the letters L and V, which blend in surprisingly well with the medieval theme. Most of the 50 jewels were sold at the launch event and Louis Vuitton’s atelier is hard at work on the other 50 pieces that will be completed between now and the end of the year.
Credit to: Maria Doulton
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