Lalique's new Equus collection is inspired by the Chinese calendar; 2014 is the Year of the Horse, and the pieces reflect the strength, grace and majesty of this noble animal.
By Hanna Cohen
Three generations ago, René Lalique opened his first jewelry store in Paris. It happened in 1885 and ever since, the iconic Parisian label has maintained the highest levels of quality, unparalleled creativity and savoir-faire that characterized its founder. Although the French brand has been renewed throughout the decades, it has never strayed from its main source of inspiration: nature.
True to its origins, Lalique presented its latest collection inspired by the Chinese calendar; 2014 is the year of the horse. The collection features a series of sculptures and vases that capture the power, grace and poise of this noble animal.
René Lalique, considered a master of glass art, has often been compared to artists such as Monet, Picasso or Modigliani. He stood out, from the start, as a jeweler and showed excellent craftsmanship with exclusive pieces designed for Cartier, Boucheron, and other fine jewelry firms.
In 1890, shortly after starting his own business, his name was already recognized as a great jewelry designer who left an indelible mark in the art nouveau movement. Subsequently, attracted by the art of sculpting glass, and in collaboration with the perfumer François Coty, he created the first artistic perfume bottle gaining praises for capturing the true essence of the fragrance.
By 1920, René Lalique was recognized for his Art Deco pieces. His creative genius is responsible for the illuminated crystal walls in the dining room and grand lounge of the SS Normandie; the design of Saint Matthew’s Church of Millbrook in the Channel Islands, also known as the Crystal Church, and the interior of the legendary Orient Express, among many other masterpieces. Lalique was able to transform the art of sculpting glass into a successful, luxurious business.
His son, Marc, and later his granddaughter Marie-Claude Lalique, elevated their craft to a more exclusive level when Marc opted for delicate crystal instead of glass, which had been used, by the firm, in their beautiful designs. The heirs of René Lalique's legacy, with characteristic sensibility and love of nature, perpetuated the firm's identity giving life and movement to their handcrafted signature pieces.
The handmade equestrian designs from their latest collection include a limited edition of the Equus vase, a 38-inch tall sculpture featuring two wild horses. This beautiful work of art, which requires 66 pounds of raw crystal and five days to complete, is valued at $26,000. Also included in this celebration of the year of the horse, pieces of unquestionable artistic value, such as the impressive horse head carved from a single piece of black crystal at a price that exceeds $50,000, the Mustang vase embossed with several horses, and the Kazak horse, made with black, golden or transparent crystal.
This magnificent collection goes beyond its decorative function to illustrate the nobility and majesty of the horse, one of man’s most beloved followers and a representative of balance, discipline and strength in the animal kingdom. Lalique’s horses show, once again, the luxury brand’s ability to reinvent itself after more than a century of service. It also demonstrates how the artistic legacy of René Lalique lives on, capturing beauty, movement and fluidity using a material as cold and hard as crystal. ■
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