Va-Va Vintage. Remembering the golden eras of French jewellery
Words by Olivia Berry
French fashion has enjoyed many a moment over the years, and for every stylish epoch is an iconic jewellery trend to match. So iconic, in fact, that stylistas across the globe continue to covet – and fight nail and tooth for – original and one-of-a-kind pieces today. If you’re looking to add something special to your collection, we conjure up some inspiration from our most loved sartorial moments in history.
An era of excess
Diamond-studded chokers, technicolour rubies and shimmering headpieces – more was certainly more according to Marie Antoinette during her reign. It should come as no surprise then that she boasted the most bountiful jewellery collection of any French queen. Not only was she pictured practically dripping in jewels in every portrait ever painted before the royal family was eventually locked away, her love affair with opulent trinkets even led to her being famously accused of defrauding crown jewellers over a certain diamond necklace.
If any style legacy has stood the test of time, it’s Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s. Rewriting the rules of elegance after the first world war meant eschewing the typical frilly, fussy styles in favour of simplicity and sophistication. Her reasoning was refreshingly simple: if women could buy jewellery that was more affordable than real gemstones, they could accessorise every outfit in their wardrobe. Case in point: signature faux pearls, circular plated earrings and diamond broaches to punctuate her chic, monochromatic looks.
Making a statement
Not only did British actress, singer and model Jane Birkin inspire Jean-Louis Dumas to create the eponymous bag, her simple, bohemian-meets-rock-n’-roll Parisian street style was a total game changer during the 60s and 70s. Birkin managed to elevate laidback, everyday outfits (think sun-bleached denim, plain white tees and micro mini skirts) by teaming them with delicate, layered gold chains, while plunging and flirty necklines were accented by big stone pendants. Even her beau, Serge Gainsbourg, was snapped wearing her signature key necklace from time to time. Can you blame him?