While the Maghreb and Egypt have inspired Chaumet in the past, sub-Saharan Africa has remained almost unexplored territory for the Maison and the Parisian world of High Jewellery. An encounter with the Kenyan artist Evans Mbugua guided Chaumet towards this part of the continent, an Africa of today, far removed from fantasy. The colors and vitality of his work were an important inspiration for the Maison, a process of creative reflection his vision informed and nourished, before his more direct personal creative participation evolved into the development of one of the themes of the collection.
With its sights trained on the world from the beginning, the Maison imbues its inspirations through cultural confluences. The Chaumet designers have consistently pushed the boundaries of their creativity, with a curiosity about the arts of the world at large, giving birth to a wealth of new ideas.
Thus, without ever imitating them, the Maison invents its own impression of distant civilizations, in the great tradition of Parisian High Jewellery. Precisely referenced, the Trésors d'Afrique collection is no less an act of pure creation. Or the appreciation, in 2018, by Chaumet, jeweller to empresses, of these cultures that celebrate and honor majestic femininity.
Trésors d’Afrique tells a five-part story of a multifaceted Africa. First of all, the Africa whose artistic expressions inspired Apollinaire, Picasso, Derain, Vlaminck and Braque, thus playing a major role in the greatest aesthetic and intellectual revolutions of the beginning of the last century, from Fauvism to Cubism and Surrealism. The Africa of sovereigns next, as the last continent on which an empress reigned, where the parure defines status.
Indeed, no land has elevated the art of adornment to such a degree of inventiveness and sophistication, where the jewel, an accessory of seduction or power, sublimating beauty and prestige, has a thousand forms and uses. Highly symbolic, it says everything about whoever wears it, its protective virtues giving it the role of a talisman. As the jeweller of emotions and the diadem, Chaumet thus found much common ground between its narrative creations and African adornment, alternately a wedding jewel or symbol of elevation when it crowns the head, with gold and stones, or skillfully sculpted hair. Trésors d’Afrique tells of an Africa that boasts an original nature, a nature that’s generous - offering us its treasures - and storied, inevitably fascinating for a Maison that has always explored naturalistic themes. A natural meeting, therefore, for a tribute to unexpected forms, a resolutely contemporary sense of daring, like the continent that gave it life.