By Rachel Garrahan in Los Angeles
There was an air of French sophistication in Southern California on Thursday evening when actress Kate Bosworth and renowned opera singer Danielle de Niese joined Alain Bernard, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, The Americas, to celebrate the reopening of the French maison's South Coast Plaza boutique in Orange County.
VIP guests enjoyed champagne and a string quartet performance at the newly expanded and redesigned store, which features the company's first dedicated bridal salon on America's west coast. Following the cocktail reception, guests were invited to a private dinner where Danielle de Niese, who is married to Glyndebourne owner Gus Christie, treated invitees to a special performance.
Alain Bernard took a moment away from greeting his guests to explain the company's approach to the location's impressive architectural redesign.
"We originally opened the store here in 2002, and wanted to have a larger space in order to show all our collections and to have the best experience for our clients."
Twice as big as the original space with rich silk walls, gold leaf accents and a sophisticated colour scheme, it was important to the maison that it still retained a sense of home.
"It feels very comfortable," he said. "We wanted to have more space, and yet we now have over 2,000 square feet for moments of intimacy."
These opportunities for intimate moments are particularly welcome to betrothed couples, and the store's new bridal salon reflects Van Cleef and Arpels' reputation as "the house of love". Alain was referring of course to the union of Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef, the latter of whom founded the maison with Estelle's brother Charles in 1906. The bridal collection available at the boutique features all D and E quality diamonds and a complete range of engagement rings, wedding bands and bridal sets.
The stars of the night though were the magnificent one-off high jewellery pieces worn by models, including the regal Baia Verde necklace from the Pierres de Caractère - Variations collection featuring diamonds, Paraiba-like tourmalines and a superlative selection of emeralds set in white gold and platinum.
Also on display was a new version of the classic zip necklace, a design originally commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor in 1937. Also from the Pierres de Caractère collection, it is a very fashionable combination of tasseled pearls, onyx, red coral and white diamonds. "We make high jewellery that is playful and adaptable," said Alain of the design that works like a real zip, and can be worn as an adjustable-length necklace or bracelet.
Also available are Van Cleef & Arpels' increasingly popular timepieces that are an extension of their core jewellery work. "As with our jewellery, we create timepieces starting with a story then we create a dial using enameling, lacquer, mother of pearl sculpting and other complex techniques," he said.
The redesigned store is its most important location on the west coast. The South Coast Plaza is not your average shopping centre. The largest mall in this region, with reportedly the highest annual sales revenues of any in the US, it is home to many international luxury brands including Tiffany, Cartier, Harry Winston and Dior. Some even choose a store there over nearby Beverly Hills' famous shopping destination, Rodeo Drive. With a store in each location, admirers of Van Cleef & Arpels' fine jewellery designs can take their pick.