Florae exhibition in Paris
Photo: Takuji Shimmura

These Photographs Bring Van Cleef & Arpels’s Floral Jewelry Into Full Bloom

Floret-themed pieces by the French house are presented alongside Mika Ninagawa’s outsized photographs of blossoms in the new exhibition “Florae.”
By Emma Leigh Macdonald
September 13, 2021
2 minute read

Floral jewelry has been a tradition of the French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels since it opened its first boutique at the Place Vendôme, in 1906, resulting in wearable blooms formed by precious materials that accentuate their charm. More than 100 pieces from this history currently shine at at the Hotel d’Evreux, the regal exhibition space next to the Ritz Hotel in Paris, in the company’s new exhibition “Florae” (on view through November 14), presented alongside floret-filled photographs by Japanese photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa.

As with the jewelry house, Ninagawa is fascinated by flowers. Her images of roses, cherry blossoms, and other vibrant varieties, spread across the walls—and in some cases, the floors—of three themed, immersive spaces, which were designed by Paris-based Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane. An inventive use of light, mirrors, and outsized panels guide visitors through the maze-like show, where the superior craftsmanship and realism of the jewelry, juxtaposed with Ninagawa’s dreamlike work, blossoms into view. One might observe the fine lines and starburst-like center of a dahlia, for example, shown at close range to highlight its sculptural details, reflected in Van Cleef’s Rose de Noël clips, made with yellow gold and diamonds, located nearby.

Perhaps counterintuitively, all of the expansive, zoomed-in imagery is meant to create a moment of calm. “You can get lost in this exhibition, as the spaces change over the course of the visit, letting you discover something new,” Tane, the exhibition’s designer, said in a statement. “But that’s what prompts visitors to take their time, to ponder, [and] to discern.”