Francesca Amfitheatrof on her Louis Vuitton Bravery II collection

In an exclusive interview with Francesca Amfitheatrof, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton jewellery and watches presents the second chapter to her Bravery high jewellery collection. Making its debut during Paris haute couture week, Bravery part two

By Felix Bischof

Her designs have been flyaway successes. “I have still not managed to have a piece in the windows downstairs,” says Francesca Amfitheatrof of her priceless Louis Vuitton high jewellery creations. These include her Louis Vuitton Bravery gems. And so far, all have been one-of pieces. “They go. They just go.”

It was in Paris last week that Amfitheatrof, who first joined Louis Vuitton in the spring of 2018 as the heritage make’s artistic director of jewellery and watches, presented twenty new small treasures that sparkle with many diamonds and rainbow-hued gems. Unveiled at Louis Vuitton’s sprawling maison on Place Vendôme – and two floors up from the boutique windows that her designs have so far eluded – Bravery Chapter II, the second instalment of Amfitheatrof’s collection concretising the life and legacy of the brand’s name-giving founder in high jewellery.

A bi-centenary, this year the maison honours Louis Vuitton, who was born in 1821 in the rural French Jura region and founded his eponymous business in 1854 at the heart of the French capital. 

A biography of filmic dimensions, Amfitheatrof first retraced Louis Vuitton’s life in 70 Bravery high jewellery creations presented last July at an event in Monaco. Bravery II completes the opus.

And with her latest group of designs, Amfitheatrof has focused her attention on Louis Vuitton’s most famous product: the travelling trunk. 

Bravery II comprises four stylistic themes. Le Multipin is named after the single lock system Louis Vuitton and his son George originally patented in 1886 as a follow-up to the company’s tumbler lock. “He called it the unbreakable lock,” says Amfitheatrof. Such was Louis Vuitton’s trust in his invention that he at one point publicly challenged American escape artist Harry Houdini with breaking free from one of his brand’s signature trunks, locked. In Amfitheatrof’s jewellery workshops, the lock gave shape to a parure of cuff bracelet, a duo of earrings and a dramatic necklace, all lavished with multicolour tourmalines (pinks and greens abound), yellow citrines and blue aquamarines. At the centre of the necklace, a landmark lagoon-blue tourmaline of 42.42 carat. An oval-cut pink tourmaline weighs in at 20.67 carats and sits atop the set’s cocktail ring.

“So, this sapphire has been with us ever since I have been at Louis Vuitton, for four years. This was always in the safe and I was obsessed with it,” Amfitheatrof says of a cushion-cut sapphire mined in Sri Lanka. Detachable – it can also be sported on a chain – the rare 20.29 carat gem is of a warm, perhaps cognac-like hue. As the focal point of Amfitheatrof’s Magnetisme necklace, it is framed by two double-rows of pink, yellow and orange tourmalines and held in place by a capital letter V – four Vuitton and also as a nod to a travelling trunk’s metal-enforced corners – set with baguette-cut white diamonds.

Louis Vuitton Bravery II Le Multipin necklace

White diamonds also feature in the collection’s third chapter. With La Mini Malle, Amfitheatrof pays homage to the dinky travelling trunks Louis Vuitton first released in 2014. Made up of chain-links pave-set with white diamonds and diamonds in Louis Vuitton’s LV Monogram star- and flower-cuts, the monochrome set counts a close-fitting choker and a sautoirs necklace. A signet ring is worked with diamond-marquetry of baguette- and round-cut stones and is, according to Amfitheatrof, “crazy beautiful”.

And there is also a diamond-set high jewellery timepiece. It’s a first for the brand. “This is numero uno,” says Amfitheatrof of her La Mini Malle watch. “And it’s going to be the first of many.”

Bravery II is completed with a quartet of cocktail rings. It took the Louis Vuitton jewellery team three years to find the coloured gems that now sit atop Amfitheatrof’s candy-hued jewels. Namely, a pink Padparadscha sapphire from Madagascar, a pinkish red ruby from Mozambique, a Madagascan cerulean sapphire and a bright green Demantoid garnet. None of Amfitheatrof’s Bravery II gems twenty have made it to Louis Vuitton’s Place Vendôme boutique windows yet.

Louis Vuitton Bravery II Le Magnétisme necklace
Louis Vuitton Bravery II La Mini-Malle
Louis Vuitton Bravery duo of cocktail rings

Read about Louis Vuitton’s new connected watch

Read about Louis Vuitton’s bi-centanary jewellery

Louis Vuitton’s B Blossom jewellery collection