Following an extensive refurbishment, the Maison Chaumet reopens in Place Vendôme, revealing a magnificent universe marrying history and modernity
Following a Paris fashion week opening attended by Carmen Bsaibes, Cindy Bruna, Joelle Mardinian, and more, the sleeping beauty of Place Vendôme, the maison Chaumet, founded in 1780, has been brought back to spectacular life. This was the first jewelry house erected on this mythic square, in 1812, that is now the world nucleus of French high jewelry. At first located across from where the Ritz now stands, Joseph Chaumet decided on 12 Place Vendôme as its official home in 1907. It faces the Vendôme Column, erected by Napoleon to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz, considered his greatest victory. The emperor’s adored first wife, Joséphine, was the maison’s first major client, and today, Chaumet reclaims its position of power, prestige, and poetry.
Enter the doors to the boutique and you are instantly taken with the imposing staircase that connects the two floors in an elegant sweep of elevation. “Its highly inviting feminine form evokes a book whose unfolding pages contain the correspondence between Napoleon and Joséphine,” reveals architect Patricia Grosdemange. A journey through Chaumet’s refurbished boutique and historic salons is akin to embarking on a fairytale. “We’ve inviting the visitor to enter into an emotional and aesthetic experience,” she says. “Each room, alcove, or piece of furniture has been meticulously chosen and custom-designed to thrill the senses and tell wonderful tales.” Over 18 months, Grosdemange oversaw that every aspect of the renovation measured grace and character, creating an almost cinematic build-up as one discovers the various spaces. “Chaumet creations are highly structured and project an idea of power, while conveying notions of nature, femininity, scrolls, and curves,” she states. Throughout the boutique, this is interpreted by the wheat and field motif, embroidered on walls and carved on the bright alabaster panels. This evokes the still modern wheat ear tiara created in 1811. Meanwhile, Maison Lesage embroidery unites gold threads with straw in an allusion to nature. Walnut wood is featured in the panelling to create a warm and welcoming feeling across the various rooms.
Also Read: Is the Chaumet Tiara the Ultimate Accessory?
As one wanders throughout, the impression is grand but also light. Notably, the work of female artists decorates the space. In the salon dedicated to future spouses, kinetic artwork by Cecilie Bendixen made with white threads evokes a ceremonial garment. In the Salon Arcade, a mineral sculpture by Milena Naef contemplates the relationship between the stone and the body. Several photographs by Julia Hetta appear as entirely modern moods on how to wear jewelry. Grosdemange is particularly fond of the Salon Arcade. “For me, it is the piece that possesses the most magic,” she shares. “With its bas-reliefs representing an oak forest, it’s the dreamlike facet of the world of Chaumet.” The decor also pays tribute to the Seventies, since that was when Chaumet opened the Arcade boutique to offer a less inhibited approach to Parisian jewelry, next to the historic store. “It was a creative time for Chaumet, with the maison using gold in a rich and textured way. I wanted to capture this unique atmosphere in both the wall textures and the furniture. Being the grand finale to the visitor’s journey, it’s also where the maison’s most contemporary face is unveiled.”
While the building is partly listed, close collaboration with the architects des bâtiments de France and the comité Vendôme ensured that the historic salons in particular could rediscover their grandeur. Each highlights a facet of Chaumet and its history. Aptly, the foyer features large-scale portraits of Napoleon and his wives Joséphine and Marie-Louise. It leads to the Salon Chopin, chandeliers illuminating its grandiose 18th century decor where the composer once lived. A Pleyel piano from the 1920s sits before the windows overlooking the square. Beyond it is the Salon des Diadèmes, which reveals Chaumet’s emblematic crowns.
If the Salon Bleu tells the story of some of the house’s greatest clients, a new all-white gallery houses sketches and potential exhibitions. In the Salon des Perles, the hôtel particulier’s historic dining room has been recreated, with drawings and photos of and from the founders of Chaumet on an expansive table. The restored panelling is now a striking midnight blue, featuring golden peacock feathers that appear to tumble from the heavens. One need not close one’s eyes to picture a black-tie dinner with women dressed in couture and dripping in high jewelry. The past is now the present, with opulent soirées awaiting for those who dream them true.
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia