Watches & Jewellery

Younghee Suh Immortalises Van Cleef & Arpels' Lacquered Butterflies As Art

A celebration of nature as the maison’s eternal muse
Reading time 2 minutes

It’s no secret that Mother Nature has been a treasured muse to Van Cleef & Arpels since its inception over a century ago. And without a doubt, one of the maison’s biggest inspirations from the world of flora and fauna is the butterfly. Embodying an ethereal and ephemeral beauty, butterflies represent at once strength and fragility, and their graceful appearance and movements have captured the jeweller’s imagination for nearly a hundred years. Now, the butterfly takes centre stage once more in the latest collaboration between Van Cleef & Arpels and Younghee Suh, who brings the beguiling creatures to life with poetic artistry.  

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Echoing the works of a famed Joseon dynasty painter, Suh dreams up a series of oneiric landscapes where bright, bejewelled butterflies flutter amidst exuberant spring blooms such as cherry blossoms, lilies, and peonies. Skilfully rendered on handcrafted hanji paper by way of traditional painting techniques, every scene highlights a different design from Van Cleef & Arpels’ Lacquered Butterfly line in a harmonious celebration of both nature’s glory and human craftsmanship.

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Itself the fruit of a partnership, the Lacquered Butterfly collection reimagines this familiar motif with embellishments steeped in Japanese symbolism. Coloured lacquer, mother-of-pearl, gemstones, gold powder, egg shells, and more are used to compose intricate patterns on the unfurled wings of each precious butterfly, from flamboyant peacocks to delicate lotus flowers to chirping warblers perched in a plum tree. Individually crafted and lacquered by hand in Wajima, Japan by Junichi Hakose, these exquisite creations elevate arthropods to an art form, and rightfully deserve the leading role in Suh’s new work.

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