Among the poetic French sayings out there—je ne sais quoi, c’est la vie—is a lesser-known expression typically employed at the sight of an obscenely large diamond ring: Gros comme un bouchon de carafe, or “as big as a bottle stopper.” The quip is the idea behind the gargantuan rings crafted from hand-cut, beveled decanter tops, part of Baccarat’s new Bouchons de Carafe bijoux collection, launching in April. “At first it was a little bit of a joke,” designer Elie Top says of the intentionally literal inspiration behind his first collaboration with the legendary crystal house. “My image of Baccarat is a chandelier, a candlestick—very luxurious. But I thought their jewels were too tiny and shy.” And so Top set out to achieve exactly the opposite, with Bouchons’ crystal stoppers reimagined as a 12-piece line of outsize pendants, cuffs and rings that are simply too outrageous to be real, in magnitude if not price, which ranges from $5,250 to $24,750.
Indeed, flagrant, fabulous fakes have become something of a signature for Top, who studied at Paris’s Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture before moving on to posts at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and haute couture when Alber Elbaz helmed the former and Saint Laurent the latter. Connections made there took Top, a mustachioed hipster dandy with an affinity for bow ties, to Loulou de la Falaise’s bijoux collection, and more significantly, to Lanvin. There, since 2002, he has worked for Elbaz on the house jewelry, which is often credited with driving fashion’s statement-piece obsession. “I’ve always liked women with huge jewels,” says Top. “I come from fantasy. I always want to do something spectacular.”