“I can’t imagine my life without jewelry,” says Victoire de Castellane, surrounded by glittering pieces from her latest Dior high jewelery collection in the brand’s 57th Street boutique. “It would be so sad. It’s really a part of my life.” Much of De Castellane’s success can be attributed to that sincere, genuine, unpretentious passion for bijoux: This year, she’s celebrating 20 years as Dior’s creative director of high jewelry, and is working on a 100-piece collection—her largest yet—to toast the milestone at the Spring 2019 couture shows.
Last week, she was in New York to meet with private clients and offer the rare opportunity to shop pieces from every collection she’s ever designed. In one corner were De Castellane’s very first cocktail rings from 1999, which were extra-extra-large and wildly glamorous, akin to what John Galliano was designing for the runway at the time. Then there were pieces with hidden symbols and secret compartments from her recent Versailles-inspired collection; her now-signature Tête de Mort skull necklaces (especially popular with young women with smaller budgets); Rose Dior Bagatelle rings with stunningly realistic, diamond-encrusted 3-D petals; and candy-color earrings from her Granville collection, named for Christian Dior’s childhood home in Granville, Normandy, among many other treasures.
Seeing all of those pieces mixed together only reinforced the signatures De Castellane has established: “When I think about what I’ve done for Dior in 20 years, it’s like I’ve started writing a story, with different identities, codes, and colors that are [my own],” she says. “I [work] with a lot of traditional, classical themes, but I think I play with them with a childlike spirit. For me, Dior jewelry is really a mix between something very traditional and something more free.”