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Why Van Cleef & Arpels loves dance
JEWELLERY brand Van Cleef & Arpels' relationship with dance began more than 70 years ago. One of the founding Arpels brothers, Louis Arpels, was a passionate lover of ballet and opera. In Paris, he would leave his office in Place Vendome to attend a ballet at the nearby Opera Garnier. He soon persuaded the luxury maison to create its first ballerina clips in the 1940s, which became a signature of Van Cleef & Arpels collections.
Subsequently, Claude Arpels, a member of the Arpels family, met legendary choreographer George Balanchine. The former invited the latter to visit Van Cleef & Arpels' New York store on Fifth Avenue to look at its collection. And the friendship gave birth to one of Balanchine's works titled Jewels (1967) which comprises three parts: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Since then, the maison has actively pursued a relationship with dancers and choreographers.
Last week, Van Cleef & Arpels supported the Asia-Pacific premiere of Le Syndrome Ian by choreographer Christian Rizzo at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) - see review on the right. Rizzo had won the prestigious Fedora - Van Cleef & Arpels Prize for Ballet in 2016, a prize given to the next generation of dance innovators.
Catherine Renier, president of Van Cleef & Arpels, Asia-Pacific, graced the SIFA event. She says: "Dance is close to us because it celebrates certain similar values that resonate with our maison, such as excellence, creativity and femininity. It's also been an inspiration for our maison over many years, guiding the creation of our ballerina pieces.
"The exquisite artistry, the dynamism of gestures, and the language of movement transmitted between choreographer and dancer, all inform the way we look at our designs, which has a certain vibrancy and movement, and also a kind of elegance and peacefulness."
Come October, Van Cleef & Arpels is supporting another dance making its Singapore debut. Hearts & Arrows, a work by celebrated choreographer Benjamin Millipied and his company LA Dance Project, is a commissioned piece by the jewellery brand.
Millipied is best-known to the wider public for choreographing and acting in the 2010 film Black Swan, where he met his future wife Natalie Portman. Hearts & Arrows, along with three other works by LA Dance Project, will be shown at the Esplanade's annual da:ns festival.
Asked if Van Cleef & Arpel's support for dance helps increase brand awareness among potential clients, Ms Renier answers candidly: "I don't know if we're going about it the wrong way. But we don't measure our support for the arts in terms of how it might increase brand awareness ... To us, we support the artists if their values of creativity and innovation resonate with our values. We see it as a fantastic exchange that makes the world richer and gives us a sense of different possibilities."
Another iconoclast Van Cleef & Arpels collaborated with recently is experimental artist and stage director Robert Wilson. He was last here for the 2014 edition of SIFA to present his dark and twisted version of Peter Pan, which drew standing ovations nightly. For the luxury maison, Wilson created an immersive art installation titled L'Arche de Noé (Noah's Ark), which showcased a selection of gorgeous animal jewellery laden with precious stones.
- SIFA continues till Sept 9. Some of the top highlights this weekend include Germinal, The Nature Museum and two programmes by the celebrated Kronos Quartet. For more information, go to sifa.sg. Tickets from Sistic
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