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Doug Little Tells the Story of Peau d’Âne for Van Cleef & Arpels’ Holiday Windows

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As temperatures drop, Manhattan storefronts along Fifth Avenue light up with decorative displays welcoming the holiday season. Van Cleef & Arpels had an additional cause for celebration in unveiling their 2014 holiday windows as the brand is celebrating its 75th anniversary this winter. On November 6, Alain Bernard, Van Cleef & Arpels’ CEO of the Americas, welcomed guests for an exclusive preview of the windows created by acclaimed set and interior designer Douglas Little.

The windows were inspired by the jewelry house’s latest high jewelry collection Peau d’Âne, which made its debut for the occasion. Each window reflects a chapter from the fairy tale, providing an elegant and mature take on the cherished children’s story written by Charles Perrault. Peau d’Âne (Donkeyskin) was first published in 1695 and is the story of a rich king whose wife passes away. He can only remarry a woman whose beauty and attributes could equal the former queen’s. However, the only person to rival the queen’s qualities is his own daughter, the princess. In order to circumvent the marriage proposal, the princess is advised by her godmother to make difficult demands such as asking for dresses to match the color of the sky, the moon, and the sun as well as the hide of the king’s prized donkey.

Photos courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

Having all of her wishes met by the king, the princess has no other option but to disguise herself in the donkey skin and flee from the castle. She finds work in the kitchen of a royal farm, where she remains hidden. One day, the prince of the farm sees the princess dressed in her gowns gifted to her by her father while she is in her room. Not knowing that the beautiful woman is actually Donkeyskin, he falls madly in love. Ill with longing, the prince proclaims that the only thing that will revive him is a cake baked by Donkeyskin. While baking the cake, the princess’ ring falls into the batter. Upon discovering the ring, the prince proclaims he will marry the woman whose finger fits the ring. In the end, the prince marries Donkeyskin, who is then able to shed her disguise and return to her former state of beauty.

Little incorporated the gem-embellished jewelry into each window scene of the fairy-tale, seamlessly combining the classic story with the new collection. Watches glisten before a beautifully constructed castle, while diamond-crested necklaces peak out of the princess’ secret box of gifts that were given to her by the king. In one of the final windows, a slice of decadent cake is filled with sparkling rings fit for a princess. Alongside Little’s interpretation of the tale, the jewelry house designed three pieces to reflect key moments in the story: the Robe Couleur du Temps necklace, the Émeraude en Majesté necklace, and the Promesse d’Amour ring. The Robe Couleur du Temps necklace is made of sapphires and Paraiba-like tourmalines to mimic the sky-colored dresses requested by the princess. The Émeraude en Majesté emerald and diamond necklace and ring represent the forest that the princess flees through and the ring that she drops into the cake. The blue and pink sapphire embellished Promesse d’amour ring represents the wedding scene. The windows are a sight to behold and not to be missed this holiday season.

Photos courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels



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Kelly Wearstler




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