Women's Jewellery

Oh hippie day

Flower Power is back – but this time it comes with a hit of luxe, says Vivienne Becker, as she gets high on a heady mix of boho-inspired jewellery.

April 28 2010
Vivienne Becker

It has ebbed and flowed like a Californian wave, but the hippie influence has never really gone away. It has left its libertarian mark on our lives and, as much as the original hippies would hate their culture being coaxed into anything as conformist and capitalist as a mainstream fashion trend, one of the hot looks this season is a new take on hippie luxe. And jewellery is an essential ingredient. A new hippie happening has evolved from the latest burst of boho-baroque to flavour fine jewellery. It has given us dramatic draped bib necklaces – now evocatively termed breastplates – and long, bejewelled sautoirs, such as Van Cleef & Arpels’ special-edition Grace Kelly-inspired Vintage Alhambra with coral and malachite (from £2,350). There are stacking rings and bangles, hoops including Dior’s Bois de Rose collection (from £600), Philippa Holland’s Love and Peace hoops (from £212) and drop earrings, such as Asprey’s supremely articulated diamond Feathers (from £19,000), the feather the symbol of peace.

Fourteen years ago, designer-jeweller Marie-Hélène de Taillac was one of the first to work with Jaipur-cut Indian stones and dangling rainbow briolettes, lending bohemianism a Parisian refinement. Now she has gone bold, setting huge drops of intensely coloured emeralds or rubellites into “girandole” pendant earrings (from €5,000), or hanging a rich gold disc with gold sequins (from €1,100). The luxe element is crucial, especially in terms of materials and craftsmanship: there are lashings of gold, plus colourful stones with a 1970s vibe and a silky articulation, so that jewels swing and flow.

Woven into this is a thread of global glamour, echoing the Hippie Trail, evidenced by exotic-travel-themed collections such as Dior’s Idylle aux Paradis narrative bangles (price on request) or Louis Vuitton’s L’Ame du Voyage by Lorenz Baumer (such as the Flamenco necklace, price on request). Inevitably, there’s also a whiff of inspiration from the never-fading image of Talitha Getty, socialite queen of Marrakech.

Inspired by her own home in Marrakech, and celebrating 30 years as Tiffany designer, Paloma Picasso has come up with a timely “Marrakesh” collection. As always, it’s huge in scale and personality, and oozes her signature high-octane, graphic glamour, now mingled with the seductive scent of the hippie haven. The jewels work intricate grid patterns of Islamic architectural design into domed medallion pendants in red jasper, black onyx, lapis lazuli or jade-green nephrite, encased in a lattice framework of 18ct gold (£3,425). The same traceries are applied to an all-gold openwork bangle (£3,425), silver drop earrings (£380) or simplified into star motifs to become links in a gold sautoir (£3,425).

Chopard, masterminded by the energetic Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, has always been about modern, global glamour and jet-set jewels. The latest, and by far most ambitious, High Jewellery collection embraces hippie luxe with a fresh, floating freedom of form and dreamlike quality. There’s a real story too: celebrating the company’s 150th anniversary with 150 pieces, the collection revolves around the animal world, a first for Chopard. Gruosi-Scheufele says the idea came to her during a sleepless night: a fantasy-world zoo inhabited by creatures from all over the globe, a phantasmagoria, almost psychedelic in its movement and colour.

Her selection is unexpected: parrots, frogs, koalas and turtles; lithe clambering monkeys stealing fruit (price on request); giraffes, a polar bear, a dragon, sardines. Even rats, ants, spiders are made beautiful. Gruosi-Scheufele says: “They all have a right to be on the planet.” This work of imagination drew heavily on Chopard’s resources of craftsmanship, sculpting, stone carving, enamelling, gemsetting, goldsmithing and on Gruosi-Scheufele’s own feeling for gems and materials, choosing from a vast repertoire of stones as varied as precious paraiba tourmaline, coloured diamonds, quartz, chalcedonies, moonstones, kunzites and pearls, as well as red gold, titanium and precious woods.

There’s more than a hint of hippie in the fluid, swinging pendants, supple bracelets and deep necklaces, although “necklace” is too tame a word for the midriff-grazing ornament – “breastplate” works here – in which clownfish bloated with colour swim in a mesh of ocean-coloured gems, air bubbles rising to the surface (price on request).

Gruosi-Scheufele agrees that the hippie flavour is strong: “We’re always looking for this mix of ease and luxury. Fine jewellery today has to be more contemporary, easy to wear, even with the most important stones. It should have a fresh, young approach.”

Solange Azagury-Partridge’s work has always had a psychedelic and pop-art vibe, and incorporated a strong spiritual, cosmic dimension. Her latest collection plays with the word Stoned and its meaning, focusing on stones themselves, their colour, light and facets wittily mimicked in gold and translucent plique à jour enamel (Real Fakes, from £3,800), or on intoxication, with gold and gem posies exuding psychotropic essences (from £1,600), or on the Gorgons, whose gaze turned onlookers to stone, or even on cherry or date stones in wrinkled gold (£1,800).

The centrepiece Stoned necklace (£140,000) is a deep collar clustered with a treasure trove of gems in different cuts, shapes and sizes, with other elements from the collection: gold fruit pips, plique à jour gems. She says: “This collection is multifaceted, all about… discovering new stone-like elements such as the cloisonné or plique à jour enamel. I think hippie luxe takes us away from the idea of hyper-perfection towards ‘included’ gems and rough diamonds.”

Even Cartier loosens up and takes a few steps down the hippie trail with additions to its iconic Trinity collection (from £1,050), the entwined coloured-gold triple band with its associations of sun and moon, love and “forever-ness”. Draperie is a group of necklaces, sautoirs, scarves, bracelets and earrings made of draped strands of gold, like threads of silk, gathered up by Trinity rings of intertwined solid bands of yellow, white and pink gold, some with diamonds, a contrast of hard and soft, the silk-like drapes with the solid circles. Necklaces are multistranded, the sautoir longer and narrower, the scarf looped through a Trinity ring, while dramatic earrings have chain draped over a large, diamond-encrusted twist.

According to Lesley Schiff, owner of Talisman Gallery, it’s this multilayered look that best expresses and strengthens the hippie hold on style, with necklaces centre stage: “The luxe side is the most important aspect, along with a world-traveller look, and a move towards bigger, bolder jewellery, and hammered gold with interesting stones, not too polished or manufactured-looking.” A hippie herself in the 1960s, and originally a dealer in tribal jewels, which she still sells, her choice of contemporary designer jewels for her gallery is shaped by the alternative outlook of hippie style. She feels this look is best channelled through Natasha Dahlberg’s layered, jewelled chains (from £800), hammered-gold and rough-gem stacking rings from Ram Rijal (from £1,300), and Egyptian designer Dima’s handmade look, a ring edged with dangling gold beads (£3,050), and cuffs with massive slices and chunks of stones by the directional Atelier Zobel (from £5,000).

Beads, meanwhile, have moved on from boho into something bolder, such as Schiff’s slices of rugged gemstone (from £350), or into intricate and sophisticated designs. Rising star Sophia Mann meditatively weaves precious beads into her sculptural jewels, mixing luxury and handicraft in organic forms such as antlers and orchids. Inside their strong, masculine frameworks, the beads bring a visceral quality and a hippie scent to her proto-tribal jewellery (from £2,600).

Of the master jewellers, Van Cleef & Arpels has always reverberated with 1960s/1970s style, with the bejewelled glamour of the beautiful people, their sautoirs heavy with massive, Indian-inspired pendants. Now it is dipping into this hippie-luxe chapter of its heritage to come up with an ingeniously elegant, contemporary take on beads in its Perlée collection, inspired by its cult Alhambra design. Born in the Flower Power years, Alhambra was the lucky four-leaf-clover motif influenced by Moorish architecture and infused with the musky allure of Marrakech. Perlée has rings (from £625) and bracelets (from £3,200) in white or pink gold, composed of golden drops or edged with them, some with diamonds.

There are hoop earrings too (from £1,250), in pink gold beads, destined as a new classic. Add a deep cuff of crumpled pink gold, edged with Perlée beads (£16,600), a reincarnation of a famous hammered gold cuff made by Van Cleef & Arpels for Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and you have a piece that’s perfect for a new style leader for the beautiful people. Peace, love and luxury.