Debra Healy pursues her Walk around Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix with an analysis of Boucheron. This prestigious brand is today without style. Creators follow one another (a new one has recently been appointed), the windows are sloppy and do not do justice to the products - the brand's potential is underexploited.
In 1858 Frederic Boucheron (1830-1902) opened his first Jewelry Salon in the Palais Royal. The Jewelry of Frederic Boucheron was imaginative and daring. He attracted some of the wealthiest and most notorious clients of his day. The grace, fluidity, and proportions of the 19th century Boucheron diamond pieces were remarkable. Following are a few examples of historic works by Boucheron.
Frederic Boucheron eventually worked with his own in-house designers an craftsmen. In 1893 Boucheron has the distinction of being the first jeweler to set up shop in the Place Vendome. At 26 Place Vendôme, where they are still located today. Boucheron exhibited in many of the international expositions: the Philadelphia centennial 1876 / Paris exposition universelles 1889, and 1900 / The Chicago Colombian exposition of 1893.
In the 1930's Boucheron attracted the new royalty, the movie stars of Hollywood.
In 2000 Boucheron was acquired by the Gucci group who were then acquired by PPR. Who is Boucheron today?
During the early days of the acquisition of Boucheron, the Gucci group was under the over all design direction of Tom Ford who had revitalized the Gucci brand. Mr. Ford is a consummate fashion professional, but he was not a jewelry professional. He appointed the trendy Londoner, Solange Azagury Partridge, as creative director. I met Solange many years ago in London when she worked for my friend Gordon Watson in sales at his gallery. She has no formal training in Jewelry, but worked with Gordon’s wonderful collection of 20th century jewelry and decorative arts. I do not know what she did at Boucheron or how it translated into bottom line sales. The Gucci group has since been acquired by PPR, Tom Ford has been long gone, and Boucheron presently seems somewhat confused.
There have been several one-off design stints in recent years. From within the PPR stable drawn from Alexander McQueen, is McQueen's favorite jeweler, Shaun Leane. Leane was chosen to design a necklace to commemorate Boucheron's 150th year of business. I like Mr. Leane's work: it is highly identifiable as "Leane", like post-modern crown of thorns, but is it "Boucheron"?
Marc Newson, the renowned product designer, created a mathematically generated fractal necklace. This was an interesting computer-age ultra-modern concept. Yet it was not incorporated within an overall design and identity strategy.
These individual pieces are like blips on a radar screen. The current Haute Joaillerie seems disconnected, unbalanced, stiff, and at times quite inelegant. It is a shame given Boucheron's extraordinary history.
When looking into the current Boucheron window it seems the displays are at times sloppy and incoherent: the products are not enhanced by the presentation, the displays are poor, the designs are totally unrelated.