The design of fashionable clothes, jewelry and accessories from the 1920s very accurately reflected the changing lifestyle of that era. The role of women in society becomes more noticeable and significant, thanks to this, the ideals of female beauty are also changing. Ladies changed their skirts to the floor and shaping corsets for short open dresses with a free cut, they cut their hair short, paint brightly and smoke in public. Their daytime clothes are purely practical, but their eveningwear is emphatically sexy and theatrical. It was for such spectacular appearances that the house of Van Cleef & Arpels created jewelry and precious accessories - evening bags with jewelry locks, richly decorated cigarette cases, travel cases and, of course, minaudiers, which appeared in 1933.
In a flat gold box, compartments were provided for everything that a lady could need to go to the theater, to the opera or to a cocktail. Lipstick, a lighter, a mirror, keys, a pill box and a bonbonniere, a comb and a lorgnette, a mouthpiece and a ball-book could easily fit into the minaudière, a miniature clock was pulled out on the side, and the lid was skillfully decorated with carvings, enamel and precious stones (the decor became especially rich after the war, late 1940s-1950s). During the day, minaudiers were hidden in satin or silk handbags, and in the evening they were opened to the public. The word minaudiere itself is associated with the French verb minauder ("attract attention, flirt") - it is believed that the accessory, invented by Charles Arpels, got its name in honor of his sister Estelle, a charming coquette and wife of the founder of the jewelry house Alfred Van Cleef.
Any Van Cleef & Arpels evening bag or jewelry vanity case reflects the current trends in the art of that time and important historical events in its decor.
The Dragon travel bag (1923) made of red and black lacquer with engraved jade was created by the craftsmen inspired by China, and in an unnamed yellow gold cigarette case (1925) they embodied Persian motives - the accessory is decorated with acanthus leaves. This piece appeared in the Van Cleef & Arpels archive just a few months ago and is presented to the public for the first time.
Dragon travel bag in gold, lacquer, enamel, engraved with jade, 1923 © Van Cleef & Arpels Press Office
Another piece of the same year, Van Cleef & Arpels' Envelope travel bag (1925), devoted to geometric abstractions, which are depicted on the lid with lacquer and enamel in blue and blue tones.
Envelope travel bag with enamel, sapphires and diamonds, 1925 © Van Cleef & Arpels Press Office
Russian motifs on the accessories of the French house were performed in the technique of mother-of-pearl marquetry by Vladimir Makovsky, an emigrant from Russia, and his works are considered one of the most popular among collectors. At the exhibition in Stoleshnikov Pereulok, not only one of the 1925 dressing cases by Makovsky is presented, but also a catalog card with an identification number, which indicates the materials of manufacture, as well as the name of the first owner of this item and the date of purchase. All exhibits have been carefully selected by Catherine Cariou, the custodian of the French jewelery house.
It is curious that the exhibition in the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique runs parallel to another important exposition in the Moscow Kremlin Museums, revealing the Art Deco theme. In addition to clothes from the collection of the Kyoto Institute of Costume, it also displays historical Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry.
The exhibition "Minaudiers and Evening Bags 1920-1960" in the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique (Stoleshnikov per., 9) is open from September 30 to October 30.>