This article is brought to you by L’ÉCOLE Asia Pacific.
In the 1920s, when Art Deco swept the fashion capitals of the world, Paris was the hub and inspiration of the movement. Its dazzling collection of designers, architects, artists, modern men and modern women popularised the trend. Among the myriad material arts that bear the stamp of Art Deco, perhaps none symbolises the radical change in lifestyles after the despair and degradation of the first world war better than jewellery.
Necéssaires—vanity cases that held makeup for newly liberated women, or hid the timepieces that helped them meet their whirlwind schedules—became works of art that travelled widely thanks to their size and utility. Sautoirs, which are long pendants that could be wrapped around the wrist to discreetly hide a miniature bottle of perfume or a timepiece, matched the elegant contours of the new, boyish fashion. Cuffs, chokers and bangles reflected the need for comfort, ease and elegance of women who drove, danced all night, and played tennis.
L’ÉCOLE, the jewellery arts school supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, is marking its second anniversary in Hong Kong and the 10th anniversary of its Paris headquarters by bringing some of that Art Deco dazzle to Hong Kong with its exhibition of the now extinct Parisian jeweller Lacloche Frères. “Lacloche has a fascinating yet troubled history,” says Elise Gonnet-Pon, managing director of L’ÉCOLE Asia Pacific, School of Jewelry Arts. “They sold to European royalty and Hollywood stars. The masterpieces in the exhibition are examples of their technical prowess and impeccable taste. Lacloche is all about the elegance of Paris during their time.”
A name known best to collectors and connoisseurs today, Lacloche was among the jewellers featured at the hallmark Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. The current show at L’ÉCOLE’s perch in K11 Musea, overlooking Victoria Harbour and noted for its hexagonal overhang and geometric display cases, pays homage to the Jewellery Hall at the 1925 exhibition, designed by mid-century interior and furniture designer Eric Bagge. A contemporary of Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, Lacloche was among the 30 elite jewellers invited to display their work in the pavilion in the Grand Palais for the six-month show, and among just eight jewellers invited to show their work four years later at the Palais Galliera in Paris.
L’ÉCOLE’s Hong Kong show reprises a Paris exhibition of Lacloche in November 2019, just as it was establishing its permanent home in Hong Kong. The 40 objects from collections around the world also include seven exquisite pieces from Hong Kong’s own famous antique collectors, Peter Fung and his daughter Lynn of the private Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road. Some of the pieces were already featured in the Paris shows, but the Hong Kong show also premieres 11 new pieces unseen from the Paris edition. The appeal of this fabled Parisian jeweller to the Hong Kong sensibility is based not just on a love of bling, but also the appealing narrative of an era when Paris fell in love with the Orient, the Middle East, and modernism in one great surge of enthusiasm.
The exhibition covers the entire 75-year span of Lacloche’s history, from Art Deco to Art Nouveau to 1960s modernism. From the brilliant cacophony of colours of Art Deco, to diamonds—set in platinum to accentuate their white colour—to the sporty jewellery of the 1930s, and a return to gold settings in the 1940s and 1950s, Lacloche created some of the world’s most beautiful and innovative jewellery, reflecting the changing tastes of the times. The exhibition “Lacloche, Parisian Jewelers, 1892-1967” runs until April 6, 2022 at L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts – 510A, 5F, K11 Musea, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
Update on January 7, 2022: The exhibition is temporarily closed until further notice according to the government’s latest guidelines. Please visit L’ÉCOLE Asia Pacific’s website for the latest updates.
An online version of the conversation ““The Saga of Lacloche Jewelers, Inside the Hong Kong Exhibition” and details of family guided tours and a dedicated class, “Beyond the Exhibition: Paris in the 1900s,” is available on the website.