Cases for make-up created by the great jewelery houses in an exhibition organized by Christie’s ♦ ︎
Memorabilia related to the world of luxury. Or, more precisely, of what surround it. In September, from Wednesday 11 to Thursday 16 Christie’s organized an exhibition in Paris curated by the jewelery department of the largest auction house. The exhibition is called A Vanity Affair and will bring together 75 luxurious make-up cases created by the largest jewelry houses of Place Vendôme. The cases, which are real jewels, were bought and preserved by a couple of enthusiasts (who prefer to remain anonymous), who assembled them with love, taste and patience over the years, reaching 160 pieces.
In my fifty years in the auction business, I have seen and handled many collections by couples, from intimate mementos of private individuals to the joint property of such legends as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. These usually started off as gifts to each other on special occasions, and as the collection grew, advanced to a more proactive and serious endeavor, often with treasures covering expansive periods, styles, and regions. The magic potion in these collections is the emotion. This is a lifelong love affair between two people, and their love affair with beauty and refinement.
François Curiel, president of Christie’s Europe
The same passion pushed the couple to assemble one of the most important private collections of Vanity and Minaudiere cases, retracing the evolution of the art of necessity from the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. The collection records the evolution of taste between the two world wars and the alternating fortunes of politics and finance. It is also a hymn to the craftsmanship of the greatest jewelry houses, which have created these accessories for “modern women”. In fact, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Lacloche Frères hold a very special place in this collection along with Boucheron, Tiffany & Co, Fabergé and Black Starr & Frist, among others.
Opening one of these boxes, is like unveiling their intimate secrets, diving into their universe and going back in time. Traveling to Paris, London or New York, crossing paths with the different personalities from elites and café society: aristocrats, designers, heiresses, pashas.
Lyne Kaddoura, writer of the book A Vanity Affair
The collection includes pieces that were previously owned by personalities such as Suzanne Belperron, Anna Gould duchess of Talleyrand Perogord, her niece Diane de Castellane, Rachel Bunny Mellon, Pasha el Glaoui, Doris Duke.
Between the Twenties and Fifties almost all the main jewelery maisons supplied an elite clientele with these small boxes in gold and silver, decorated with diamonds, colored gems, jade and coral, and determined by the aesthetics of the day, reflecting many distinctive styles, Belle Époque, Art Deco, Oriental or Retro. But the mechanical aspect is also to be admired, with hidden hinges and layered compartments.
During the exhibition the book Vanity Affair will be available, 336 richly illustrated pages, published by Rizzoli. Federico Graglia
Exhibition: from 11 to 16 September, from 10 to 18
Christie’s: 9 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris