The Maison’s second high jewellery collection adheres to the curves and contours of the human body, modelling some after the human anatomy and others after medical objects
“The whole collection resembles a caress,” says Pierre Hardy, creative director of Hermès jewellery. “The necklaces are as soft as arms around the neck.” For the Maison’s second high jewellery collection, Hardy sought to question the boundaries between jewels and our skin. Believing that jewellery doesn’t merely embellish the body but rather gives it a language, and expresses its innate beauty, he created the pieces by listening and observing the human anatomy. Every sensation, every emotion, the various textures and shapes, the colour palette, and even the way we move provided inspiration.
He elaborates: “I tried to stay as close as possible to the body and to think about this very specific relationship that happens when a woman chooses to wear such a piece of jewellery. On the ears, fingers, neck, shoulders… and trying to understand and express this moment, this sensibility.”
The result is a collection of highly architectural pieces that adhere to the curves and contours of the body, enhancing them, some inspired by human anatomy and others by objects such as stethoscopes. Hardy also designed a statement ear cuff based on the intangible yet visceral act of tucking your hair behind the ear.
Like art pieces for the skin, the pieces are enhanced with gemstones selected based on their proximity to skin tones, as well as hair, lip and eye colours. Blue tourmalines, smoky quartz, satin- brushed black jade – they’re almost an extension of our bodies. Smooth polished cabochons are also preferred over hard, dazzling facets, with diamonds being the only exception.
Hardy envisions the pieces as physical manifestations of an emotion, a feeling or sensation, which is why, instead of the stones or the gold, the focus is on the wearer. “I want you to observe what’s happening when a piece of jewellery is on the skin, on the body, and look how beautiful it is, look how feminine and essential it can be. Not only how bright or big or heavy it is, but on the contrary, how it can merge and fuse with the body, as closely as possible.”
As an example, the necklace named Contre La Peau is a perfect reflection of this unique approach. A stunning latticework of rose gold and brilliant diamonds, it was achieved by having the goldsmithing technique lead the way. Hardy had embarked on this piece without any sketches, but was guided solely by a vision to create a fabric in metal that could envelop the neck like a caress.
He elaborates: “By working with meshing, we sought to create a fabric in metal. And we discovered that we had created the microscopic structure of skin, with its triangular micro-wrinkles.” Completely fluid, the necklace slips on and off effortlessly while the hand jewellery glides on like a gauntlet. “I sought osmosis with the hand,” says the designer of the collection’s numerous statement rings, “not just to place a gemstone on a finger.”
Being a luxury Maison whose primary metier is leather rather than jewellery, it is only necessary for Hermès to present a new vision of high jewellery and what it could be, rather than conforming to pre-existing norms. High jewellery, too, has evolved from what it was historically – a symbol of social status – to modern objects of art one would wear as the heart desires. So brands often need to think out of the proverbial box in creating new designs. But could Lignes Sensibles be too unconventional? Arguably. Yet even if it were, the team is used to it now, Hardy laughs.
“High jewellery always has to be surprising,” he says. “Not disrupting, because you have to wear it and carry it in a way, but it has to be very different than what is existing. That’s the minimum it has to be.”
This story first appeared in the July 2021 issue. Purchase it as a hard or digital copy, or have luxury delivered to your door by subscribing here