Who Was once the Guy In the back of Parisian Jewellery Space Fred?

PARIS — If the foundation tales of mythical jewellery homes are retold time and time once more, their founders are incessantly far away figures shrouded within the mists of a time earlier than ubiquitous images.

Now not so Fred Samuel, the founding father of Parisian residence Fred.

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Simply ask across the town’s specialised ateliers and jewellery circles. To many, he’s nonetheless “Monsieur Fred,” a heat presence who would prolong a serving to hand to younger craftspeople and take a possibility on concepts that struck his fancy — to nice good fortune.

Now the past due founder, who gave up the ghost in 2006, is set to grow to be “Monsieur Fred” to an entire new era with the primary retrospective retracing his lifestyles and the 86-year-old residence he constructed, which opens on Sept. 28 at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo artwork museum.

“What’s attention-grabbing is how strongly he continues to reside within the recollections and hearts of people that knew him,” says Fred leader govt officer Charles Leung. “Not like different founders he additionally had this excellent concept to jot down his memoirs in his later lifestyles, so now we have get entry to to objects he ‘advised’ us, quite than simply extrapolating.”

Co-curated by way of Vanessa Cron, a professor and jewellery historian, and Vincent Meylan, a seasoned jewellery editor and creator, the exhibition “Fred, Jeweler author since 1936,” will function greater than 450 jewels and gadgets along just about 300 paperwork, arranged in 12 thematic rooms greater than 7,000 sq. ft.

Leung says it’s been designed as an immersive revel in with interactive portions quite than a chronological tribute to “display without delay who our founder was once and the way his spirit will stay on inspiring all the way through the years [since] now we have the duty to take this very distinctive Twentieth-century recent prime jewellery artwork to the following centuries.”

That, and “what [Fred Samuel] lived was once loopy,” he provides.

The exhibition will open with a room devoted to the 101.57-carat brilliant intense yellow diamond Soleil d’Or diamond, which reappeared in 2021. “This was once an excessive amount of of a twist of fate,” the manager says. “If this diamond got here again to the home, it method it desires to be the megastar.“

After that, guests will dive into Samuel’s lifestyles. Born in 1908 in Buenos Aires to Alsatian folks who had emigrated to Argentina on the finish of the nineteenth century and had been within the jewellery industry, he returned to France within the early Nineteen Twenties.

His father had additionally been a jeweler, so after learning trade, he become an apprentice at Worms, then a well-known jeweler specialised in herbal pearls. He married Thérèse Halphen in 1934 and opened his personal retailer on tony Rue Royale two years later.

The corporate was once first referred to as Fred Samuel and introduced “the best pearls within the capital,” particularly for the reason that younger entrepreneur had constructed a dating with Mikimoto, with which he’d evolved a unique rosy hue of cultured pearls. On his industry playing cards, he inscribed “Fred Samuel, le moderne joaillier créateur,” (the trendy jeweler fashion designer, in French).

The show off additionally touches on his provider right through Global Struggle II, the place he enlisted first within the International Legion and later within the Loose French Forces, in spite of being father to 2 babies. After Paris was once liberated, he regained regulate of his industry — being of Jewish descent, he’d been pressured to promote it — and located his spouse and youngsters unhurt, in spite of the lack of a lot of different members of the family.

Trembleuse brooch given to Thérèse by Fred Samuel in white gold platinum and diamonds circa 1945.

Trembleuse brooch given to Thérèse Samuel by way of Fred Samuel in white gold platinum and diamonds circa 1945.

Maximum touching of all is a brooch that he introduced to his spouse after the struggle, set with diamonds that the jeweler had sewn into the sleeve of a garment, in case he wanted a bargaining chip right through the battle.

“In his memoirs, he likened [this brooch] to lifestyles, announcing it was once on one hand extraordinarily fragile and at the different very robust however finally, gorgeous,” Leung says.

After 1945, Fred quickly thrived, aided by way of Samuel’s knack to head the place different jewellery homes didn’t tread, together with the release of the steel-and-gold Drive 10 bracelet impressed by way of nautical apparatus — crusing was once a keenness shared by way of the circle of relatives, who received a number of notable races over time; the outlet of a shop in Paris’ Orly airport at a time when commute retail didn’t exist, and dealing on Saturdays, when the remainder of Position Vendôme shuttered for the weekend.

“He by no means did such things as others as a result of he had his personal imaginative and prescient of ways he sought after to construct his industry,” says granddaughter Valérie Samuel, who serves as creative director and vice chairman of the home, which was once received by way of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1995.

Fred Samuel, seated, with son Henri and granddaughter Valérie, around 1995

Fred Samuel, seated, with son Henri and granddaughter Valérie, round 1995

To her as properly, the exhibition felt like the journey of an entire life. It was once some of the first subjects she broached when she rejoined the home in 2017, in a while earlier than Leung’s arrival, however “it’s no longer like I arrived with blank, catalogued and ready-to-use archives,” she says with a smile.

The 3-year procedure felt forensic from time to time however was once vital. She “knew the entirety that was once at the back of the home” however passing time had distorted parts even in her personal recollection. “I didn’t be mindful a lot once I got here again. However looking out via my recollections whilst running on [high jewelry collection] ‘Monsieur Fred Interior Gentle’ made issues reconnect.”

Regardless of: a garage facility held greater than 1,000 bins, containing just about 10 heaps of fabrics that were saved by way of the corporate all the way through the many years. Inside of had been some 7,000 gouaché drawings and sketches, simply as many pictures and numerous papers that at last helped her to glue the dots with circle of relatives anecdotes or episodes narrated by way of Samuel in his memoirs. A “Fred Cherche Fred” (or “Fred is searching for Fred”) open name led to additional subject matter introduced up by way of shoppers, circle of relatives buddies and trade connections.

Necklace in yellow gold, turquoises and diamonds, 1971

Necklace in yellow gold, turquoises and diamonds, 1971

They’re put to excellent use all the way through the succession of rooms, the place different Fred signatures emerge: his interest for semiprecious stones and coloured diamonds, a light-hearted option to jewellery with charms and the Fredy’s characters, but additionally the home’s collaborations with various artists in more than a few fields. They vary from Jean Cocteau and watch designing legend Gérald Genta to photographers Pierre et Gilles and twiglet Kate Moss.

An immersive revel in of the ocean marks the Drive 10 assortment’s position within the narrative whilst a room devoted to the home’s masterpieces all the way through the ages gives an astrolabe, swords designed for cultural figures inducted into the Académie Francaise and a lotus-adorned, diamond-studded fountain carved from a 130-kilo block of rock crystal.

Some other necessary center of attention is Fred Samuel’s relationships with crimson carpet royalty and royal households, from Princess Grace of Monaco to Nepal’s remaining dynasty, the place the home was once an reputable provider to its sovereigns from the ’60s to the past due ‘90s.

Taking pleasure of position in Fred’s cinematic highlights is Julia Roberts’ well-known hearts necklace in “Beautiful Girl” — or no less than its copy, for the reason that authentic set with 23 rubies was once bought — proven along the crimson get dressed worn by way of the actress within the movie. Roberts’ niece Emma, who fronted the gathering impressed by way of the film; Catherine Deneuve, and James Bond actress Caterina Murino are amongst different well-known faces.

Fred CEO Charles Leung

Fred CEO Charles Leung

Last off the exhibition is a diffusion from the brand new “Monsieur Fred: Interior Gentle” prime jewellery assortment, which will also be attempted on just about the use of AR applied sciences.

Whilst they hope guests achieve an figuring out of 86 years of ingenious bold, a novel spirit deeply rooted within the zeitgeist and the lifetime of a “perpetual ‘younger guy’ who lived a longevity,” what Leung and Valérie Samuel in point of fact need guests to stroll away with is that any one can “be like Monsieur Fred.“

“The speculation is [that] all of us will also be our personal hero in our personal means” regardless of the place and after we are in lifestyles, Leung continues. “It’s necessary for younger other people at some point to not surrender on humanity.“

If some get a hankering for the craft, it could be even higher. “We want robust, great, full of life recent other people to sail longer as a result of we will be able to no longer be there perpetually,” he concludes.


The tale of Fred is additional explored in two books launched along with the exhibition at Palais de Tokyo.

The cover of “Fred: The Sunlight Jeweller.”

The duvet of “Fred: The Daylight Jeweller.”

Fred: The Daylight Jeweller

This well-documented tome penned by way of jewellery historian Vincent Meylan is a spouse to the Palais de Tokyo exhibition, development a bridge between the spirit of Fred Samuel and the continued legacy of the home he constructed, now beneath the twin stewardship of Leung and Valérie Samuel.

256 pages, 65 euros
Printed by way of Flammarion

A Jeweller’s Memoirs

First printed in 1992 in French and now to be had in English, this account of Samuel’s lifestyles in his personal phrases gives a glimpse into the grit, decision and ever-optimistic spirit that took him from Buenos Aires to Paris, throughout the tragedies of Global Struggle II, and again into the glamorous nadir of prime jewellery.

192 pages, 19 euros
Printed by way of Flammarion

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