For almost two millennia, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens has stood as an ode to Aspasia Annia Regilla, a prominent benefactor of the city and the wife of Roman senator Herodes Atticus. Located on the southern slopes of the Acropolis, one of the world’s oldest theaters was once again etched with the story of an influential woman, Francesca Amfitheatreof, artistic director for watches and jewelry at Louis Vuitton.
As the maison presented the fifth high jewelry collection designed by Amfitheatrof, the Odeon became alive with a theatrical journey spanning the birth of the planet to the creation of life itself. This is Louis Vuitton’s largest high jewelry collection to date, and perhaps its most ambitious as well. A record number of precious stones narrate a story of craftsmanship and high jewelry savoir-faire that is marked by a comprehensive knowledge of geological legacy. Composed of 180 pieces, the collection titled Deep Time is a brilliant exercise in storytelling, with necklaces that mimic the movements of tectonic plates, and fiery gems formed in lava that represent the volcanic eruptions from the beginning of time.
The dazzling experience playing out under the Athenian night sky commenced with the captivating notes of French violinist Renaud Capuçon. A piece of choreography by the renowned Greek theater director, choreographer, and visual artist Dimitris Papaioannou soon comes to the fore as dancers descended from the heights of the Odeon towards the stage. Dressed in black, each dancer wore a head harness mounted with torches directed towards a model to highlight pieces from the collection.
A closer look at the Deep Time collection was presented earlier in this high jewelry journey with Louis Vuitton. Nestled within or accessorized with unique objects curated by Emma Hawkings – imagine fossils, eggs, and even bones – each piece added to this voyage through the planet’s evolution. Stones took center stage of this scenography by Brazilian design studio by Estúdio Campana, with standouts including a flawless 40ct sapphire from Sri Lanka formed in water, and Mexican opals from a mine that closed 150 years ago. “We have this incredible ambition to find the most beautiful stones, which in Deep Time are all connected to a theme, whether formed from lava, hailing from different continents or symbolizing an idea,” says Amfitheatrof. “Deep Time is a celebration of the past, but also the beauty of nature and the incredible fragility of life.”
Explored through two acts – geology and life – the first begins with Gondwana, named after a supercontinent landmass that marked the planet’s formation. This selection of the rarest, no-oil Colombian emeralds was followed by the themes of Volcano, Wave, and Rupture – an explosive phenomenon from elemental powers featuring everything from mandarin garnets and raspberry pink tourmalines to rare sapphires, oval cut opals, and diamonds. Finally, Drift embodies the sun and sea, as the earth settles down to prepare for life, with a magnificent pairing of aquamarines and yellow sapphires making way for Deep Time’s second act.
Life heralds a more intricate and sophisticated universe; spectacular jewels emulate creation across eight distinct themes. Ranging from Origin and Fossils through to Seeds and Flowers, the themes bring a seductive play and juxtaposition of textures, layers, and of course the most spellbinding stones – a detachable LV monogram star-cut diamond, pigeon blood rubies, and a pear-cut Paraiba tourmaline from Mozambique are only some of the stars in this glittering act. The jewels are versatile – a necklace from Bones stands out. The bib-style jewel is the most complex necklace ever made in Louis Vuitton’s history. Speaking about the creation, Amfitheatrof commented, “This is a pretty phenomenal necklace. You have a suite of tanzanites and then you have these incredible drops, sort of shower of diamonds, an amazing opal, and a huge Paraiba – really big, really stunning.”
Originally published in the July/August 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia