Surrounded by glittering pieces from her latest Dior high jewelry collection in the brand’s 57th Street boutique. Victoire de Castellane says “I can’t imagine myself without jewelries “It would be so sad. It’s really a part of my life.”
Much of De Castellane’s success can be attributed to that sincere, genuine, unpretentious passion for bijoux: This year, she’s celebrating 20 years as Dior’s creative director of high jewelry, and is working on a 100-piece collection—her largest yet—to toast the milestone at the Spring 2019 couture shows.
She was in New York last week to meet with private clients and offer the rare opportunity to shop pieces from every collection she’s ever designed. In one corner were De Castellane’s very first cocktail rings from 1999, which were extra-extra-large and wildly glamorous, similar to what John Galliano was designing for the runway at the time.
Also, there were pieces with hidden symbols and secret compartments from her recent Versailles-inspired collection; her now-signature Tête de Mort skull necklaces (especially popular with young women with smaller budgets); Rose Dior Bagatelle rings with stunningly realistic, and candy-color earrings from her Granville collection, named for Christian Dior’s childhood home in Granville, Normandy, among many other aesthetic pieces.
Seeing all of those pieces all together only strengthened the signatures De Castellane has established. “When I think about what I’ve done for Dior in 20 years, it’s like I’ve started writing a story, with different identities, codes, and colors that are mine,” she says. “I work with a lot of traditional and classical themes, but I think I play with them with a childlike spirit”. For me, Dior jewelry is really a mix between something very traditional and something more free.”
Castellane’s secret in designing jewelries since day one has been the ASSYMETRY
“When I start [designing a new] piece of jewelry I always start with asymmetrical things,” De Castellane explains. “Even in my Incroyable cocktail rings, each side of the setting is different, so when you’re alone with your ring, you can look at it [from every angle] and let your imagination wander. There’s not only one way of seeing it—it’s not something closed. I like to create with the idea of things feeling open.”
Elsewhere, De Castellane’s asymmetry is more obvious: Her new Dior Dior Dior collection includes some of her boldest earrings yet, like the cultured pearl set with one white gold earring and one yellow gold earring.
. “Women wear jewelry so differently now, especially young women,” De Castellane says. “Before, [jewelry customers] were much more bourgeois—women wore full sets of jewelry, or they just wore it to go out. Now, it’s more bohemian, in a way—you’re living with your jewelry every day, and for me, jewelry has to be part of you. The ‘total look’ is for another kind of lady [of the past]. When I arrived in the jewelry world, I thought jewelry could make you look much older, especially if you’re wearing it in a serious way—it could age you 10 years! But now, mixing your jewelry and adding costume pieces is much more fun and [feels] younger…
When you consider how long the house of Dior has been in existence, 72 years, 20years doesn’t feel like such a long time. Victoire de Castenllane has built a lot of beautiful jewelry pieces around Monsieur Dior’s love of garden, and she often visits his collections for inspiration in couture techniques and in fabrics.
By Femi Ajiyon