Victoire de Castellane & her “Fleurs d’exces”

In real life I don’t like flowers. I can’t get attached to something that dies so quickly, so I make flowers that live forever. -Victoire de Castellane

For her debut solo art exhibition Fleurs d’Excès (translation:Flowers of Excess), Victoire de Castellane recently transformed the Gagosian Gallery in Paris into an imagined sharply defined  botanical garden.

A Parisienne, de Castellane grew up in a well-to-do familial mix, whose origins can be traced back to the 10th century. Her grandmother Sylvia Hennessy along with her friend Barbara Hutton were champions of both enormous and extravagant jewelry.

Victoire, a self-proclaimed Magpie, was hired by Dior as the first Creative Director of their new jewelry department in 1998.

Unconcerned about convention,  though passionate about history and technical challenge, de Castellane’s creations are fueled by an irrepressible imagination, taking cues from various sources such as the wonders of Technicolor; the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney; Hollywood screen idols, manga characters and cupcakes.

With “Fleurs d’exces”, she created idiosyncratic pieces that recall the jeweled mania of times past, such as the mechanical nightingale of Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s tale, Faberge eggs, and the fabulous bestiaries of animals both real and mythic.

Inspired by this play of naïveté and knowingness,  De Castellane’s collection delights in subtle subversions of sweetness, delicious dips into darkness. Fallen nature makes an appearance in charming necklaces, pendants, rings and bracelets fit for a tea party. What at first seems like a pleasing tangle of pink sequined blossoms, however, at second glance becomes a wild-growing weed with thorns of crystal. Beautiful, yes—but calculated to damage any creature that ventures too close.

And what of the rest of Victoire’s Eden? Nature, red in tooth and claw—dazzling to the eyes but a reminder, perhaps, that we are all wandering this earth a little lost, a little alienated from our fellow creatures.

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