It’s easy to see how the sale of Marie Antoinette’s jewels at auction last fall, and current discussions about women in roles of power, could influence an accomplished Parisian designer like Lydia Courteille to introduce a collection based on the infamous French queen. But it’s how Courteille uses this inspiration to explore the dark side of Marie Antoinette’s story, specifically her epic fall from grandeur to disgrace, that makes the jewelry so intriguingly unexpected.
It is not quite the gilded, beribboned, pastry-laden extravaganza that Sofia Coppola gave us in 2006’s Marie Antoinette, but rather something a little more Tim Burton in its expression—albeit with a resplendent haute joaillerie slant.
Launched last week during Paris Fashion Week, the collection encompasses soft Cinderella blues and golden sunshine yellows, a palette that gradually deepens and darkens, as a piece of ripe fruit loses its pigment to the shades of bruising and decay. Spiders (a favorite Courteille motif in general) creep in as they might have infested Marie Antoinette’s dank prison cell at the Conciergerie.
An amphibious-looking creature resembling a sinister gargoyle, tongue out (and clutching a gorgeous pear-shape aquamarine), is also part of this beguiling assortment.
Less menacing are a parrot and a pair of monkeys who were part of the royal menagerie at Versailles. And the symbols of royalty and courtly life during Louis XVI’s monarchy: suns and stars, a scepter, fleur-de-lis, and a harp (Marie Antoinette was said to be a gifted musician in this regard).
And looking down at one of the collection’s fanciful knuckle-duster rings (there are three), you can just make out the shape of the era’s elaborate headdresses and sky-high wigs.
See more from the collection below.
Top: Marie Antoinette ring with sapphires and aquamarines in 18k white gold
Follow me on Instagram – @aelliott718Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine