“Joséphine”, the iconic Chaumet collection, has been reinvented, playing with colour, re-enchanting pearls and giving a place to fantasies for every hour and desire. From amethyst and citrine, to peridot, aquamarine and rhodolite garnet, the tones of gemstones combine in joyous compositions with diamonds and pearls. Here everything is legend, each piece in the collection whispering the story of an exceptional woman of yesterday to today.
“The soul” of the collection
Exiled from Martinique to Europe, a prisoner of the Revolution, divorced, widowed, devoted mother, lover of the First Consul, Empress of France, divorced once more, and a respected botanist, Joséphine’s life has all the makings of a novel. “Neither completely the one, nor entirely another,” she assumed her various responsibilities with brio, faithfully remaining true to the French art de vivre that characterized her relationship with the world.
An imperial inspiration
An 18th-century aristocrat, Joséphine retained memories of life on tropical islands. As Empress, she reinvented the codes of fashion and taste, popularizing her own vision of elegance.
Emboldened by a sense of liberation melding nature and happiness, inspired by the thinking of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, she cast off conventions and corsets, adopting the lightness of voiles, the theatricality of tulles and the transparency of chiffons. Layering and stacking pearls, diamonds, materials and motifs, she invented looks that became essential for the “jet set” of the time. From necklaces and rings, to brooches, earrings, châtelaines, hair ornaments and so on, these “accessories” became precious parures that could be worn depending on the circumstance, inventing the modernity of a fashion adaptable to any moment.
A setting for nature
Joséphine’s wardrobe was a mixture of dazzling and delicate hues. In order to capture the subtle tones of a rose or an orchid, the freshness of an hydrangea, or to evoke the celestial blue of an agapanthus, she had tulles embroidered, layered chiffons and transformed her dresses into living paintings.
Having been born on Martinique, she possessed a love of all things maritime. Her passion for iridescent oriental pearls came from her nostalgia for the ocean, for nature both wild and refined, nourishing her taste for antiquity.
Her highly singular way of melding styles, moving from classical to pastoral, combining land and sea, mixing and matching, and personalizing her bold gestures, represents a modernity that seems very contemporary to our own time.
The passion of love
Joséphine invented a modern couple in a time of momentous change, practicing an utterly unprecedented lifestyle à deux. From her wedding until her death, she never ceased loving and caring about Napoléon, the man of her life. Her desire to make a success of her “blended family”, the attention she paid to the education and the future of her children, as well as her embrace of the “clan” composed of an enlarged family circle of nephews and nieces, makes such an unusual level of intimacy very similar to the reality of today’s families.