Last year, Louis Vuitton’s high jewelry collection set off on the ultimate adventure. Deep Time, the house’s fifth and most expansive collection to date, delves into the mysteries that capture the genesis of the planet to the beginning of life with a collection of 170 pieces. Finally, the epic collection reached its conclusion at Paris Haute Couture week in January, with a display of 50 new one-of-a kind pieces spanning 11 themes. This February, denizens of Dubai get to experience Louis Vuitton artistic director for watches and jewelry Francesca Amfitheatrof’s revolutionary designs as she accompanies Louis Vuitton to present the final epilogue of Chapter II of Deep Time alongside the launch of LV Diamonds at an exclusive event at the Royal Atlantis. “Dare and flair” are two words that encapsulate the distinctive design approach of Amfitheatrof. In a remarkable span of six short years, she has managed to shake things up in the world of high and fine jewelry, accomplishing monumental feats with her trailblazing attitude. “When you’re inventing your mark, you have to be brave,” says Amfitheatrof.
When asked what it is about Louis Vuitton’s designs she believes is captivating jewelry enthusiasts globally, Amfitheatrof shares, “Our jewelry tends to take more risks from a design point of view. They’re unusual, very contemporary, but not hard or stiff– they are still very flamboyant.” She’s casually wearing one of her pieces, a spectacular transformable necklace set with leaves that are crafted from over 400 custom-cut emeralds and diamonds from the latest “Plant” theme. “I love this necklace,” she states. “The leaves can also be removed and worn as brooches and the stones are set to mimic the Damier pattern.” This is the magic of Louis Vuitton’s unparalleled jewelry-making savoir-faire. She adds, “We procure the most extraordinary colored stones out on the market and have very quickly established ourselves with having the best.” Exquisite yellow diamonds, Zambian emeralds, deep-blue sapphires from Sri Lanka and Burma, spinels in captivating hues, and pearls grace Deep Time’s final chapter.
Her third, and last point, is key. “We also have our own diamond cuts in the shape of a flower and star.” This is quite novel. Diamonds have rarely seen any exciting innovation around cuts since Louis XV of France commissioned his jeweler to cut a diamond in the shape of his lover’s lips in the 18th century. The cut later became known as the marquise diamond. It’s no surprise there have been few innovations with new cuts; it’s an area that is time consuming and takes meticulous attention to detail. It’s also a space where few dare to tread. “I heard of this possibility when I first arrived at Vuitton and I became obsessed with it,” says Amfitheatrof. “We spent a lot of years working towards our goal– calculating, studying – and finally achieved something quite phenomenal.” It’s actually groundbreaking. How many diamond cuts can you look at and attribute to a brand? The LVCUT Star Monogram and the Flower cut make the French house’s jewelry instantly recognizable. It’s a task many jewelry brands, especially in the high jewelry space, find difficult to achieve.
Perhaps this is where Louis Vuitton, as a non-pure play jewelry brand, becomes an ace of a wild card. The house’s unwavering spirit of adventure and dedication to excellence not only propels it forward, but also gives rise to avant-garde designs that stand the test of time.
Francesca Amfitheatrof’s creative process mimics the spirit of commitment to excellence and originality. Once she’s set on a theme, she spends weeks researching to gain a full understanding of her subject before creating mood boards and finally, presenting them to her design team. “I need something that is going to completely transform me,” she says. The entire process spans over two years. From inspirational field trips to stunning locations, to inviting subject matter experts to spend days educating her and her team, Amfitheatrof is constantly pushing her designers to think out of the box. “We create through experience, not through books. I don’t allow Pinterest. I want everything to feel like it’s happened because we’ve experienced something truly original. Then, we divide the stones, design, and refine, refine, refine.”
The biggest challenge when it comes to her creative process? “I don’t like repetition. I want to be constantly stimulated and I want to be drawn into an adventure. It’s important that we don’t sort of sit on our laurels. I’m very conscious of the fact that we need to check ourselves to always feel fresh and that we’re offering something a little bit surprising.” One thing is certain, with Amfitheatrof at the helm, Louis Vuitton’s jewelry will continue to surprise and defy expectations of what jewelry should be, breaking the mold one collection at a time.
Originally published in the February 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia