Van Cleef and Arpels' Windows Go on an Extraordinary Adventure

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Van Cleef and Arpels' Windows Go on an Extraordinary Adventure

It can be a tad intimidating being the neighbor of Manhattan’s best dressed window’s (Bergdorf) but this year Van Cleef and Arpels pulled out the big guns and hired renowned creative Douglas Little to give some pizzazz to their holiday windows, which coincide with their newest high jewelry collection, Voyages Extraordinaires, inspired by Jules Vernes. As Nicolas Bos, President & CEO and Creative Director of Van Cleef & Arpels explained, “Having been located at the historic corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue for over 70 years, we really wanted to participate in the magical holiday atmosphere that exists in New York City and when I met Douglas, I knew that his strong interest in 18th and 19th century curiosities as well as in contemporary art and fashion, would give a good perspective to animate our new collection.” Go see for yourself and be sure to pop out your ear buds, Erik Sanko has composed ethereal music to accompany each window that can be heard on the street. Below Douglas Little shares his thoughts on the windows with W:

“When I first heard the story about the collection I thought it could be really fun to make the windows into toy theaters based on Jules Verne stories. From there I did extensive research on French and Italian toy theaters from the 18th Century. What makes them so interesting is that they are composed of many layers. What also gives them their charm is how low-fi they are. They are at once child like yet terribly sophisticated.”

blog_van_cleef_arpels_01.jpg “This one is Around the World in 80 Days. What makes it exciting is that the balloon goes back and fourth on a diagonal and the clouds move up and down. And when it is all combined you get an almost dizzying effect.”

blog_van_cleef_arpels_02.jpg “This one is based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and in this one there are two layers of seaweed that sway back and fourth and the clam that opens and shuts. All the audience members in the opera boxes are laser cut out of paper. I had an illustrator draw them to give them more eccentric quality.”

blog_van_cleef_arpels_03.jpg “Mushroom window is Journey to the Center of the Earth. Here a butterfly flaps its wings. At the top of each window there is a little vignette about what is going on below, so here there are little mushrooms painted on glass.”

blog_van_cleef_arpels_04.jpg “Jules’ novels were based on fantastic journeys, so this is more a reference to his fantastic stories than just one in particular. This is where the primitive theater techniques kind of came about. I was inspired by Adventures by Baron von Munchausen, the waves move back and fourth and the ship rocks back and fourth. Van Cleef has a very unique way of showing their jewelry and so here we molded the sail around a neck form.”

blog_van_cleef_aprels_05.jpg “This is a winter fantasy installation. It was inspired by paintings by Caspar David Friedrich. His paintings are about nature but have a real supernatural aspect. Part of Van Cleef’s collection is based on water but the color palate looks more ‘frozen’ to me, so here we have a neoclassical building covered in ice and a maze covered in snow. And of course the forced perspective backdrop.”

—Cator Sparks

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