Ever so often a designer comes along who creates jewelry today that may become the collectibles of tomorrow. Louis Vuitton jewelry designer Francesca Amfitheatrof is one of those people. Her jewelry is bold and colorful while paying homage to the history of Louis Vuitton.
A new coffee-table book, Francesca Amfitheatrof: Fantastical Jewels, published by Rizzoli, takes a look at the visionary designer’s unique approach to creating collections of high jewelry for Louis Vuitton. Written by Stefania Amfitheatrof, with a foreword by actor Cate Blanchett, the book follows the designer working in the heart of Paris as she brings a new perspective to jewelry design.
The Creative Process
Each collection designed by Amfitheatrof tells a story through precious jewels and metals. The book delves into four jewelry collections following the story of the designer’s process from raw materials to finished jewels and everything in between. Filled with images of sketches, gouaches, collages and personal photographs along with text on pages that looks like it has been pulled straight out of an old-fashioned typewriter, the book showcases how Amfitheatrof and Louis Vuitton have given the ancient art of jewelry making a modern spin. At the same time, the book also explores Amfitheatrof’s creativity and how her personal experiences resonate with Louis Vuitton.
In the foreword Cate Blanchett, who is also featured on the pages modeling some of the jewelry, says that “Francesca Amfitheatrof is not simply a master jeweler; she is an alchemist and an adventuress.” The Academy Award winning actor notes that the designer’s spirit of adventure lights up her designs.
The author’s notes start by asking us the existential question “how can we comprehend the existence of materials created billions of years ago?” The designer goes on to state that she is always seeking magic and it is a sense of wonder that guides her in creating high jewelry collections for Louis Vuitton. She also explains that this book is more of a sketchbook as well as an intimate and personal journey through her design process.
In many ways Amfitheatrof approaches design much like an author writes a book. She looks for a strong narrative for each of her collections and then immerses herself in a story, using it as an emotional connection. She then creates chapters for the book, filling the pages with unique jewelry that is meaningful and timeless, masterpieces that are meant to be collected as art.
Divided into four sections, the book opens with the Louis Vuitton Spirit Collection, that tells the story of the spirit of the Louis Vuitton woman. The sky is the hero of the next section, Stellar Times, which represents the sun, moon, stars and clouds found in the heavenly bodies. This collection also explores the play of blue and green, the colors of life on our planet. The third section Riders of the Knights is inspired by Joan of Arc and pays tribute to the “transcendental power of one woman’s vision.” Medieval chivalry, warfare and architectural design are prominent in this section, which also nods to the talismanic quality of jewelry. The Bravery Collection, which is the final section of the tome, celebrates in the words of the designer “the intrepid spirit of Louis Vuitton (founder of the eponymous firm) by reigniting Louis Vuitton symbols and codes with the power of precious stones and legendary designs.”
Collaborating with art director Fabien Baron, Amfitheatrof has created a very personal look at her creative journey in a luxurious package with a ribbon tie closure and vellum inserts. Francesca Amfitheatrof: Fantastical Jewels is a beautiful addition to the library of any jewelry collector or enthusiast.
Featured image (top of page): © Fantastical Jewels by Francesca Amfitheatrof, Rizzoli, 2023.
Authored by Amber Michelle