This New Van Cleef & Arpels Exhibition Is Pure Floral Fantasy

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One of the greatest historical relationships of influence is that of flowers and jewels. For centuries, jewelers have studied the natural world in search of a muse, resulting in some of the most iconic designs in the category. Among the best testaments? Van Cleef & Arpels’s vast collection of inspired jewels—both past and present.

From ruby-encrusted dahlias to sapphire-dotted forget-me-nots, the jewelry house has taken full advantage of this special bond since 1906. Now, Van Cleef & Arpels is delivering the floral interpretations to admirers in a different format: “Florae, an exhibition that exuberantly pairs the duo, courtesy of the brand’s archive and works by Japanese photographer and filmmaker Mika Ninagawa.

On view at Hôtel d’Évreux on Place Vendôme in Paris through November 14, the exhibition is an immersive floral display on chromatic steroids. Eccentrically bright and at a looming scale, Ninagawa’s photography of color-saturated dahlias, roses, cherry blossoms, and more plays in wonderful contrast to the daintiness of its jewel counterparts.

Architect Tsuyoshi Tane, photographer Mika Ninagawa, and Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos at the “Florae” exhibition in Paris.

Photography courtesy Van Cleep & Arpels

Despite the fact that the exhibition deals with an ephemeral subject—flowers, whose blooms disappear within weeks—the exhibition speaks to themes of immortality and memory. From Ninagawa’s perspective, the beauty of flowers is meant to be preserved, just like the priceless jewels within the exhibition vitrines. “By photographing flowers, I seek to capture and immortalize their fleeting beauty,” she tells AD PRO. “Nothing lasts forever, so I want to preserve this beauty as it appears at a precise moment in time.”

In all, the collection presents more than 100 Van Cleef & Arpels pieces, notably from the Patrimony collection as well as contemporary styles.

The exhibition highlights the Patrimony collection as well as contemporary designs by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Photography courtesy Van Cleep & Arpels

To materialize the sentiment even further, Van Cleef & Arpels and Ninagawa worked with architect Tsuyoshi Tane, of Paris-based Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects, to develop the exhibition architecture. Wanting to encourage viewers to take their time through the space, Tane uses reflective glass walls to create a mind-bending procession—as though one is venturing through a prismatic garden funhouse, with Ninagawa’s photography projected throughout.

“In some sense, you can also get lost in this exhibition as the space changes over the course,” Tane says, alluding to hope that visitors will “discover something new.” A natural extension of the company’s jewels, the exhibition is simply enchanting.

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