E’ dal 1860 che il marchio Lalique riecheggia tra collezionisti e personaggi dal gusto raffinato. Un nome, diventato oggi un brand, che in un secolo e mezzo ha rappresentato e continua a rappresentare uno stile artistico unico nel suo genere. La lunga storia di questa azienda è legata a doppio filo a quella del suo fondatore, René Lalique, eccentrico creatore di gioielli e sculture in vetro. Considerato fin da subito come il “Rodin della trasparenza”, René ha saputo interpretare alla perfezione i gusti della sua epoca: Art Nouveau prima, e Art Deco poi. Oggi Lalique continua a produrre nuove e vecchie collezioni, ma le opere storiche -molte delle quali pezzi unici- e i bozzetti sono diventati oggetto di ricerca di molti appassionati collezionisti che non si lasciano sfuggire i due appuntamenti annuali, dedicati a questo settore, organizzati da Christie’s a Londra.
Proprio in una di queste occasioni, nel 2005, il museo Lalique, allora ancora in fase progettuale, è riuscito ad aggiudicarsi l’intera collezione di Marie-Claude Lalique (1935-2003), nipote di René. L’acquisizione, di notevole dimensioni e valore, ha di certo velocizzato i tempi di realizzazione del museo permanente, aperto al pubblico dallo scorso 2 luglio. Situato in Alsazia, regione francese celebre per la tradizione vetraria, e precisamente a Wingen-Sur-Moder, questo museo di 900 metri quadri ospita più di 650 opere firmate Lalique. Il percorso espositivo ripercorre le tappe salienti dell’azienda e l’evoluzione delle tecniche di lavorazione del vetro e del cristallo.
Parlando di Lalique, vengono subito in mente i bellissimi vetri-scultura, ma pochi sanno che René Lalique (1860-1945) ha iniziato la sua carriera come disegnatore di gioielli.
Le sue creazioni, ispirate alla natura e al corpo femminile, hanno acquistato fin da subito fama internazionale, diventando oggetti di culto. René, infatti, è stato il primo designer di gioielli ad accostare materiali come l’oro e le gemme pregiate con materie povere - allora poco considerate - come l’avorio, il corno e le pietre semi-preziose.
Gioielli di avanguardia, per la fine dell’Ottocento, ammirati e richiesti dal jet set internazionale e presi come fonte d’ispirazione anche da gioiellieri come Cartier. Tra il 1891 e il 1894 anche l’attrice Sarah Bernhardt ha commissionato a René Lalique numerose tiare, collane e i gioielli spettacolari creati appositamente per ogni ruolo che era chiamata ad interpretare.
Il cambio di rotta, da gioielliere a vetraio è avvenuto gradualmente.
Il primo approccio al vetro, materia perfettamente modellabile, trasparente e translucida è servito a René per creare perle colorate da incastonare nei suoi bijoux.Dopo l’Esposizione Universale del 1900, però, sono iniziate ad aumentare le imitazioni dei suoi gioielli, e questo fatto è stato per Lalique un motivo sufficientemente valido per dedicarsi esclusivamente alla lavorazione del vetro. L’occasione numero uno, per René, è avvenuta dopo un incontro con l’imprenditore e profumiere francese François Coty che aveva deciso di commissionarli la progettazione e la produzione di alcune bottiglie per essenze - delle quali nel museo si conserva una cospicua collezione. Per l’azienda Lalique si aprono, così, nuovi orizzonti al passo con la moderna mentalità industriale.
La produzione, da allora, è stata diversificata in più settori: dai servizi da tavola ai vasi - come quello simbolo creato nel 1927 delle Baccanti -, dalle sculture alle lampade, dalle bottiglie agli abbellimenti realizzati per compagnie navali, per treni - come l’Orient Express - e per le architetture religiose, senza dimenticare i bouchon de radiateur, elementi decorativi per automobili prestigiose.
Tutto questo e molto di più è raccontato dal Museo Lalique, grazie anche ad un apparato iconografico e tecnologico con filmati capaci di rievocare il gusto di quei tempi.
The name Lalique evokes the brilliance of jewellery, the wonder of transparency, and the brilliance of crystal. Before it became a brand name, it was the name of a man, an artist of genius, René-Jules Lalique and of his heirs who shared his creative flame.
1860 : René Lalique was born in Aÿ-en-Champagne in the Marne region of France. Some years later, the Lalique family moved to Paris but continued to spend holidays in Aÿ. René Lalique remained deeply attached to his birthplace throughout his life.
Following the death of his father, René Lalique became an apprentice to craftsman and jeweller Louis Aucoc. It was during this time that he learned jewellery-making techniques, while attending classes at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. He then left for England where he continued his studies for two more years.
In 1885, after gaining recognition as an independent designer for some of the great jewellery Houses such as Jacta, Cartier and Boucheron, René Lalique took over the workshop of jeweller Jules Destape on Place Gaillon in Paris.
In 1887, Lalique set up business on Rue du Quatre-Septembre. As early as 1888 he designed his first parures in finely-wrought gold inspired by Antiquity and Japonism, and broke with jewellery-making tradition by including innovative materials in his pieces. At the time, originality and creativity had been abandoned in favour of ornate and lavish styles with an abundance of precious stones. Lalique made the materials he used central to his designs. He chose them for their power, light and colour, whether they were precious or not. He combined gold and gemstones with semi-precious stones, mother-of-pearl, ivory and horn, in addition to enamel and glass.
In 1888, René Lalique registered his “RL” stamp and engraved the unique pieces created in his workshop with these letters.
1890 : René Lalique's work had gained wide-spread popularity. He now opened his third workshop at 20, Rue Thérèse in Paris. His first experiments and designs using glass date from this era. Lalique already used enamel and glass, side-by-side with gold, opals, diamonds, pearls or amethysts, to embellish his jewellery.
1900 : Over the next decade, René Lalique forged his reputation. He won competitions, exhibited his work and created jewellery for well-known entertainers such as actress Sarah Bernhardt. His desire to “create something that had never been seen before” earned him the accolade of “inventor of modern jewellery”. He revolutionised jewellery styles of the period, becoming a favourite with leading socialites, and was admired by the most distinguished of his fellow-jewellers. His work was commissioned by the great courts and collected by the world’s wealthy. So when René Lalique took part in the 1900 Great Exhibition in Paris, it was the crowning moment of René Lalique's career as a jeweller. It was that same year he was also named Officer of the French Legion d'Honneur.
In 1905 René Lalique opened a shop at 24, Place Vendôme, where he exhibited not only his jewellery but also the glass objects crafted in his workshop at his estate in Clairefontaine, near Rambouillet. Perfumer François Coty was so impressed by René Lalique’s designs that he asked him to put his talent to work for the perfume industry. Their collaboration had begun! Their work together revolutionised the perfume industry and made it possible for the first time to offer perfumes in attractive bottles at affordable prices. From then on, Lalique worked increasingly on designs for the perfume sector, finally devoting himself entirely to more industrial techniques of glass production. René Lalique, Art Nouveau master jeweller, was to become an Art Deco master glassmaker.
In 1921 René Lalique had now devoted himself to glassmaking for several years. His quest for a suitable location to produce glassware and a qualified workforce led him to Alsace. He founded the Verrerie d’Alsace glassworks at Wingen-sur-Moder in Alsace, at the heart of a region with a strong and historic glassmaking tradition. This is now the world’s only Lalique factory.
René Lalique participated in numerous architectural projects. The 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris marked the climax of René Lalique’s career as glassmaker, and a triumph for the Art Deco movement. His techniques with glass gave rise to a style that was essentially expressed through the contrast between clear and frosted glass. He sometimes added a patina or enamel or used stained glass.
1929 : When luxury was involved, René Lalique’s name was right alongside. He was inundated with commissions and undertook some large-scale interior design projects. René Lalique was chosen to undertake the decoration of the Côte d’Azur Pullman Express carriages.
1935 : René Lalique was commissioned for a series of high-profile projects. These included decorating the famous fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet’s haute couture salons, designing glass doors for Prince Yasuhiko Asaka’s residence in Tokyo and creating the fountain which for a time decorated the Galerie des Champs-Elysées in Paris. He then participated in the interior design of the vast first-class dining room of the luxury liner Normandie. He designed lighting columns and chandeliers for this colossus of the seas. 1935 was also the year in which René Lalique opened the Lalique shop at 11 Rue Royale in Paris.
1945 : Death of René Lalique. His son Marc took over as head of the business. He was to bring Lalique into the age of crystal.
1977 : Marc’s daughter Marie-Claude Lalique became CEO of the company. She renewed the tradition of jewellery design and developed the fragrance business.
1992 : The history of Lalique has always been closely linked to that of perfumery. When Marie-Claude, the grand-daughter of René Lalique, created the eponymous fragrance, "Lalique de Lalique" in 1992, her initiative was more than legitimate. Lalique Parfums has a unique signature that combines creativity in its bottle design with a quest for exceptional quality within its fragrances.
2008 : Swiss group Art & Fragrance under the management of Silvio Denz acquired Lalique with the aim of developing it globally and increasing the production capacity of crystal glassworks.
2010 : A new tank furnace was inaugurated at the Lalique crystal glassworks, demonstrating the commitment to modernising the Wingen-sur-Moder factory.
2011 : The Lalique museum opened its doors in Wingen-sur-Moder after two years of construction. The museum houses over 650 pieces by René Lalique and his successors. The building designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte contains a collection of jewellery, glass and modern-day crystal presented in a bright and luminous environment.Lalique presented a new collection of furniture, home accessories and household linen. The Art Deco-inspired Lalique Maison collection sprung from a remarkable collaboration between the famous crystal glassworks and internationally acclaimed designers Lady Tina Green and Pietro Mingarelli. This new division enables Lalique to share expertise with prominent contemporary artists, foundations and talented designers to create unique and outstanding works of art. The first piece produced, Yves Klein’s Victoire de Samothrace by Lalique, created in partnership with the Yves Klein Archives, draws on traditional expertise required for the exceptional lost wax technique.
In 2012, the l’Odyssée du Feu Sacré collection marked the rebirth of fine jewellery and Lalique jewellery, marking the House’s return to the roots of its founder: Master Jeweller René Lalique.
2014 : Lalique presents for the first time an exclusive collection of 5 fragrances. Composed of peerless ingredients, these scents reveal novel facets of timeless olfactory families. With the strategic launch of the "Noir Premier" collection, Lalique writes a new chapter in its history. Lalique, perfumer and crystal maker, diversifies its offer with selective and edgy creations for a clientele of perfume connoisseurs.