PARIS – If you fancy expensive gold, fine diamonds or watches with tradition, Place Vendôme in Paris is the place to look for goods. Originally laid out as a monument to the glory of the armies of Louis XIV, the historic square has a long history of frill with the first fine jewellery salon opening in 1815. The establishment is getting new company: two avant-garde houses Repossi and OMA have teamed up to bring modernity to French historic bricks.
The majority of companies, nearly exclusively jewellery brands, which are tenants within the historic compound have a longstanding tradition – the average age on the square is 170 years, with many companies having been located on Place Vendôme for the same amount of time. Repossi is a fresh wind in this climate of establishment. The small company has been founded in 1920 by Gaia Repossi’s great-grandfather and opened its first shop in 1949 in Torino, Italy. Gaia Repossi, who is a compelling character, became the brand’s artistic and creative director in 2007 at the age of 21 after studying painting and archaeology. Her interest in art and architecture seems to translate into her vision of jewellery, which is modern and minimal compared to the flowery opulence of other fine jewellers. Artistically, the entering of Gaia Repossi into her family’s business was described by many as a long overdue revolution for the old-fashioned industry.
An architectural kinetic installation that transforms into a mirror, jewellery display or billboard.
Nothing illustrates the differences so well as a comparison between the interior of Chaumet, the oldest maison on the square, and Repossi’s recently opened store. Chaument is like Versailles in style, lined with gold and history. Back in the day, Frederic Chopin taught the Polish countess who owned the maison to play the piano. He died in the very same room. None of such historical weight encumbers Repossi’s 90-sq-m space. Ranking among the smallest of spaces habited by the opulent retailers, the shop instead convinces with its modernist appearance which sits between clinical, elegant and playful. Different types and shades of metal fully immerse the visitor – and the jewellery too. No display cabinets clutter the view as showcases are integrated within the metal fittings on all three floors. The excellence of both the company and its products has materiality and clarity at its core. A last proof – if one is needed – is the presence of furniture by Donald Judd. Where padded armchairs or a decorative chaise longue would be common, Gaia Repossi makes a firm but poetic gesture by furnishing her store with wooden chairs and tables by the American minimalist.
Interestingly, parts of Repossi have been acquired by French fashion powerhouse LVMH last year. As the multinational luxury goods conglomerate also owns Chaumet, the previously mentioned high-end jeweller at the other aesthetic end of the spectrum, it will be interesting to see where Repossi is heading in the future.
Comcept of kinetic installation. Image OMA
Partition of three floors. Image OMA
Historic Place Vendôme. Image OMA
Photos Cyrille Weiner / Repossi