“I like the idea of a powerful mother and daughter linked by style”

Boucheron creative director Claire Choisne on why heirloom pieces – from perfumes to jewels – are the most precious things in life

Claire Choisne at home in Paris
Claire Choisne at home in Paris | Image: Yannick Labrousse

My style signifier is elegance with a twist. Alexander McQueen’s creations, for example, always have something special. My look when I’m not working consists of a simple white T-shirt, well-tailored jeans and a pair of Gucci sneakers with a glittery cat on them – I have a thing about cats. It’s about comfort and confidence. 

The last thing I bought and loved was a painting on tissue paper of a redbird (a cardinal) by Miguel Pinheiro de Melo. I found it in the Barros & Bernard gallery in Lisbon, which belongs to friends. It’s rare because he paints very few birds.

Always in Choisne’s bag: L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain
Always in Choisne’s bag: L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain | Image: Yannick Labrousse

In my bag, I always have Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture lipstick and my perfume, L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain. When I was a teenager, my aunt wore it and I was obsessed – I’d jump into her arms to smell it. I promised myself to buy it when I could, and since I turned 18 I’ve never changed my scent. YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick, £30, yslbeauty.co.uk. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, £96 for 75ml EDP, johnlewis.com

I collect Papuan necklaces made of natural materials such as shells or feathers. They are extravagant in volume and so beautiful, though the materials seem simple. It takes a crazy talent to make something so creative.

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The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were Alexander McQueen pieces, bought just before lockdown, including a trench coat with a white front and a Prince of Wales back. It was a real crush. Usually I choose darker colours, but this one has turned me upside down. It has a witty touch, and the cut is perfect – well-structured yet feminine. 

At home in Paris, I spend most of my time comfortably settled on the big couch in my living room. It’s like a cocoon. I love seeking silence in the heart of the city. I also have a house near Comporta in Portugal, in a pine forest a few kilometres from the ocean. It was built with a whole side of glass so I can look at the outside as if it’s a giant painting. It was my oxygen during lockdown. 

Choisne’s Alexander McQueen trench coat
Choisne’s Alexander McQueen trench coat | Image: Yannick Labrousse

In my fridge you’ll always find champagne – always! I believe in cracking it open to raise the spirits. I love drizzling blackberry syrup into it.

The gadget I couldn’t do without is, unfortunately, my electronic cigarette.

Choisne at home in Paris
Choisne at home in Paris | Image: Yannick Labrousse

I’d love to return to Lençóis Maranhenses national park in north-east Brazil. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful: white sand dunes as far as the eye can see and turquoise freshwater pools for bathing. There was no one there – we were completely alone in this corner of paradise. 

The best gift I’ve received recently was a mug with a cartoon drawing on it that my daughter Maud made of both of us ordering a coffee. I ask for a small jar of cold milk when I order coffee and she has adopted this habit. Using this mug every day makes me happy.

Lençóis Maranhenses national park in north-east Brazil
Lençóis Maranhenses national park in north-east Brazil | Image: Getty Images

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Kohei Nawa, particularly his PixCell series. The work that particularly touched me is PixCell-Deer, where a taxidermy deer was covered with 60,000 glass spheres of all sizes. He makes animals dream-like.

The podcast that struck me recently was Neri Oxman’s TED talk. She’s an amazing designer and architect, and a professor at MIT. She is conducting research on how to make digital manufacturing interact with the organic world and draws parallels between science and art/design. She gets artists and scientists to collaborate on topics related to sustainable development, and that really speaks to me about the work I'm trying to do at Boucheron. I would love to meet her one day to talk about future collections.

Her mug featuring a drawing by her daughter
Her mug featuring a drawing by her daughter | Image: Yannick Labrousse

The piece of jewellery I will keep to pass on to my daughter is my Eternal Flower ring, as she inspired it. She gave me blue hydrangeas on Mother’s Day when she was little, and I captured this moment by creating the Eternal Flowers rings, one of which is made from hydrangea petals. We started the collection with the dream of giving “eternal life” to flowers, and scanned natural petals to cover the rings. I also gave Maud a Quatre Radiant ring for her 20th birthday, which she wears on her pinky finger. I like the idea of a powerful mother and daughter linked by style. 

I’ve always had a weakness for Cédric Grolet’s pastries – you can feel his obsession for detail. I love stopping by his patisserie on Avenue de l’Opéra for a Paris-Brest.  

The Boucheron Eternal Flower ring inspired by Choisne’s daughter Maud (above right)
The Boucheron Eternal Flower ring inspired by Choisne’s daughter Maud (above right) | Image: Yannick Labrousse

The best book I’ve read recently is Stefan Zweig’s Mary Stuart. I love history books about queens, and I think this one accompanied me for several years; it went around the world twice. During lockdown, I also stumbled upon a book of philosophy called Petit Traité des Grandes Vertus by André Comte-Sponville, which my grandfather gave me in 1995. I was very moved to find it. The book presents how and why the extreme of each quality becomes a defect. 

My beauty and wellbeing gurus include a man with golden hands who recently gave me a massage and a facial at the Hôtel de Crillon spa. I try to get Thai massages regularly at different places in the first arrondissement – it’s vital – and I also do a form of “electrostimulation exercise” [using Miha Bodytec technology] once a week at Action Sport, next to the Palais Royal. In 20 minutes of intense exercise, I can do the equivalent of my recommended activity for the week.

Pastries by Cédric Grolet
Pastries by Cédric Grolet

I’m looking at the world differently in terms of creativity. In our new Contemplation high-jewellery collection, there’s this notion of taking time and observing nature, appreciating the simple, beautiful little moments in life. This idea came to me three years ago and seems so relevant today, considering what we have experienced in the past few months, and the deprivation of nature that some people may have experienced.

The last music I downloaded was by my cousin Zoé Simpson. I listen to her album Femmes Debout on repeat. Zoé is a committed spokesperson for women, she writes her own lyrics and her album is full of stories of women she has known, seen or read about. I also love Angèle: her songs make me feel good, and I appreciate the aestheticism she brings to her music. I like women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

A shot of Boucheron’s Cape de Lumière from its 2016 collection 26 Place Vendôme
A shot of Boucheron’s Cape de Lumière from its 2016 collection 26 Place Vendôme | Image: Yannick Labrousse

I am inspired by every woman who enjoys freedom and independence; who knows what she wants and what suits her personality and taste, so she can tell her story in her own style. I don’t have one particular muse or style icon. However, if I had to choose one woman on earth, it would be my daughter.

And on my wishlist is Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance’s green Borghese sofa, which evokes a stylised grove. It is contemporary and in touch with nature. There’s one in the vestibule of the Boucheron apartment on Place Vendôme. €9,379, from pamono.eu

Boucheron Quatre Radiant ring
Boucheron Quatre Radiant ring | Image: Yannick Labrousse

When it comes to jewellery, I wear my Quatre Radiant ring and our latest Jack de Boucheron creation every day – the former because it’s a timeless and unisex icon, and the latter because it perfectly expresses the Boucheron philosophy: on one hand the freedom to create, and on the other the freedom to wear it as you wish… as a bracelet, necklace or belt. I always combine two Jack pieces, either as a multi-row bracelet or as a long necklace. Quatre Radiant, from £2,590. Jack de Boucheron collection, from £3,480.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an explorer. I would like to travel the world and create a home routine in different places, staying six months or a year in each city to understand the cultures of different countries.

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