Dior Joaillerie Shines Through Time As It Marks Its 20th Anniversary
In the sphere of jewellery, 20 years might not make a very long history. But for Dior Joaillerie, it is certainly a milestone worth celebrating, considering the fact that jewellery is not its core business to begin with. And fete it in grand style the French maison did. In June, it held a special presentation of its latest high jewellery collection in the spectacular Palazzo Labia in Venice, showcasing the pieces on models clad in dresses specifically designed for the event by Dior creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri.
That eventful evening also marked the success of the woman behind the spectacular growth of Dior Joaillerie over the past two decades. A design legend in her own right, Victoire de Castellane, the creative director of Dior’s jewellery division, fused her inimitable style with the aesthetic codes of the fashion house, producing pieces that combine extravagance and colour with femininity and elegance, while consistently adding her signature dose of stylish quirk.
Jewellery has been a big part of Dior from the very beginning, even if it wasn’t the main event back then, so to speak. Today, it is a crucial part of the house’s identity and is well-loved by women all over the world. We take a trip down memory lane to uncover Dior’s long love affair with jewellery.
A Love for Nature
During the early days of Dior’s jewellery, inspiration was largely drawn from nature, reflecting Monsieur Christian Dior’s love for the rural landscape and gardens of France. Floral motifs and animal designs—even unicorns—were frequently seen.
Flowers are generously used as motifs throughout Dior’s fine and high jewellery—the rose, in particular, is a prominent feature, as seen in the Rose Dior Bagatelle and the newly launched Rose Dior Pop collections. No surprise there, since it was Monsieur Dior’s favourite bloom.
Monsieur Dior believed that jewellery is every bit as important as clothing, and would design them specifically for each of his collections, instead of matching them with the clothes as an afterthought. The subsequent years following his passing in 1957 saw the house’s jewellery collections influenced by the nine creative directors at the helm.
(Related: Dior Makeup's Peter Philips Reveals Why The Brand's New Lipsticks Are Infused With Flower Oil)
In 1998, the fashion house announced the opening of its official fine jewellery division, Dior Joaillerie. French jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane was chosen as its creative director in 1999. Before that, she had been designing costume jewellery collections for another brand for 14 years.
Born Into Legacy
De Castellane was born into an aristocratic French family. Her love for jewellery grew from watching her grandmother, Countess de Castilleja de Guzman, change her baubles to match her different outfits several times throughout the day.
(Related: Meet The Women Behind The World's Best Jewellery Brands)
Her jewellery designs for Dior Joaillerie veer to extremes—the new Mimirose collection features tiny diamonds and gemstones on the most delicate of gold chains, while the Incroyables et Marveilleuses rings from 1999 featured gobstopper 80-carat semi‑precious stones.
De Castellane is known for her bold aesthetic and bringing a dramatic “costume jewellery” vibe to precious jewellery, revolutionising how fine and high jewellery are typically designed. Case in point: the Archi Dior collection from 2014, where the design of the elaborate pieces follows architectural principles.
Skulls, a recurring theme in Dior Joaillerie creations, demonstrate de Castellane’s knack for making fashion statements out of precious materials—they appeared in the Reines et Rois collection in 2009, and in a more whimsical form in last year’s Tête de Mort collection.
The Rose des Vents collection was unveiled in 2015 and swiftly became a popular icon of the brand. At the centre of the jewellery pieces is the compass rose motif, which is also shaped like a star in reference to one of Monsieur Dior’s favourite lucky charm.
An animal motif to be found regularly among Dior Joaillerie’s creations is the leopard. The Mitzah rings, formed out of a curled leopard’s paw is a nod to Mitzah Bricard, the French fashion icon who was Monsieur Dior’s muse—it was said that she would always wear a leopard-print scarf around her wrist.
A Positive Sign
De Castellane’s sense of quirk is cleverly applied to 2015’s Oui collection, where the French word for “yes” is literally spelt out on earrings, rings and necklaces. While it can represent a multitude of meanings to different people, the collection was designed as a fun way to say “yes” to a loved one.
Palace of Dreams
Released in 2016, the Dior à Versailles high jewellery collection featured a highly unusual material combination—blackened silver was used together with white, rose and yellow gold to create an antiqued look as well give the pieces a dark edge.
In 2018, Dior Joaillerie took inspiration from the fashion codes of the house with the Dior Dior Dior high jewellery pieces, many of which take their shapes from ribbons and lace.
Symbol of Beauty
In 2019, de Castellane pays homage to Monsieur Dior’s passion for the rose with La Rose Dior, a collection of jewellery made up of the Bois de Rose (above), Rose Dior Bagatelle and Rose Dior Pré Catelan series.
(Related: Dior Men’s Kim Jones Wanted To Be A Zoologist Before He Decided On Becoming A Fashion Designer)
The Gem Dior collection, which was launched to mark Dior Joaillerie’s 20th anniversary in 2019, features a riot of colours and plays on asymmetry, a signature style of de Castellane. She says: “It’s as if I had put all my collections from the past 20 years into a shaker and what popped out were freeze-frames and very large pixelated close‑ups. In the end, what is left is material and colour.”