The creative process is rarely a linear one. So it is for his latest 45-piece high jewelry collection, Lignes Sensibles (or Sensitive Lines in French), for which Creative Director of Hermès Jewelry Pierre Hardy cites a stream of inspirations. Circuits and grids inform the lines that wander across the body with the glow of soft-hued stones; words like “vibrations”, “pulsations” and “rhythm” are used to describe the audio alchemy of the creations. While other jewelers might be content to paint with light, it seems Hardy will settle for nothing less than a visual symphony. And much like the act of listening to an emotive score, Lignes Sensibles was designed for the pure pleasure of feeling and experiencing the jewelry.
“For this collection, I focused on individuality and subjectivity. Why does a woman decide to wear a particular piece of jewelry? How will this piece interact with her body, her skin or even her brain and heart? And what feelings will she have—not for the benefit of onlookers, but for herself?” he muses. “I think it’s a very intimate process. You choose to wear something because you really feel for it and it goes in harmony with yourself. And that is very Hermès because Hermès never does things for show. You do it for the pleasure, the balance, and the harmony that you can create between this object, whatever it is, and yourself.”
This dedicated focus on the inward gaze and the reverence for the human anatomy is perhaps why many have called this Hardy’s most intimate jewelry collection yet. And it shows in the pieces that seem to encircle the body like a lover’s tender embrace.
The Contre la Peau bib necklace, for example, drapes seamlessly against the contours of the neck with a lattice of irregular rose gold and diamond triangles. It’s fully articulated and immensely complex—so much so that Hardy found himself having to forgo his usual method of first conceptualising on paper. He headed straight to the technical department to bring to life this light‑as‑lace creation that “echoes the skin”. The À l’Écoute hand jewel links fingers to wrist with its slender diamond‑studded Hamsa-like outline, dressing the back of the hand with the subtle light of its blue tourmaline, smoky quartz and satin-brushed black jade stones; while the Hermès Réseau Lumière necklace cascades down the décolletage like water trails set on mimicking the blood capillaries that lie so close beneath the skin.
Then there are the gems. In a palette of watercolour hues and sensuous cabochon cuts, they beckon with come-hither looks instead of catcalling from across the room. Green‑blue and yellow‑orange sapphires, green‑yellow prehnites, topazes, tourmalines and luscious, milky moonstones beam serenely from their diamond‑lined perches to captivating effect.
“It was important for me to make this correspondence between the jewellery and the body because it’s not just about adorning the woman,” elaborates the designer. “It’s a conversation about her and of intimacy. So I tried finding stones that can merge with the colours of the skin, the eye, the hair, the lips… all the shades that are in-between colours.”
The overall result is one that tears down conventions of what high jewelry is expected to be and look like. Each of the jewels found in the collection’s five family lines propose a point of view that is distinctly… well, Hermès—a house that has always fiercely guarded its right to do things its way.
“I really tried to put myself in a woman’s skin, in a way, and to find new solutions while trying to avoid all the high jewellery clichés, like a symmetrical centrepiece design, the matching earrings… Of course, they’re beautiful. But we’ve seen them all before,” he says. “So I thought: Okay, let’s pay attention to the woman’s body, and observe how it flexes and how it reacts during very light, subtle moments—like the start of a smile or when it experiences the start of a thrill. You know, all these tiny sensations and moments? The jewels express and reflect those moments.
“There’s a beautiful phrase from Yohji Yamamoto. He said that when he’s creating a women’s collection, in his mind, he thinks: ‘How may I help you?’ Not ‘how do I dress or transform you’, but ‘how may I help you?’ I think it’s a very beautiful way of thinking because it puts what women want, love and need first. That’s the game.”
And the game is certainly afoot. With this year marking his 20th anniversary helming Hermès’s jewellery universe (Lignes Sensibles is the House’s sixth high jewellery collection since it launched its first in 2010), Hardy has had time to develop the “vocabulary and grammar” of its designs in accordance to Hermès’s very specific notion of femininity and the “Hermès woman”—someone who truly appreciates luxury not for the Gram but for the untainted joy and utility that the impeccably crafted object adds to her life.
But how does one go about making the intangible tangible and transposing all that into a bauble that fits on an earlobe? “It’s like translating from one language to another language,” Hardy explains. “I find the right materials and drawings to express ideas through the language of shape and colour. That’s the excitement of design; that’s the fun of my job. To find out how I can say things and make myself understood through design. And the fact that I work with the richest and most beautiful materials from nature and transform them through art and craftsmanship to become the most precious shapes, it’s all very, very exciting.”
If there is one thing to be gleaned from my conversation with Mr Hardy, it’s that he is still having fun with what he does 20 years on. And that can only spell good things for jewelry lovers.
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