compacts-066l18051-banner2.jpg
Jewellery

From Buccellati to Chaumet: A History of the Vanity Case

Bejewelled, elaborate and delicate; the vanity case is the essence of elegance.  An embellished case that serves many different roles, the vanity case is both clutch and compact case allowing for ultimate yet discrete storage for one’s accessories. Since the 1930s, the greatest jewellery houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Tiffany, Cartier, Chaumet, Schlumberger, Lacloche, Boivin, Mauboussin and Buccellatti, have all have created styles of these precious cases that have reflected trends from Art Deco, to Art Nouveau, Cubism to Bauhaus. Sotheby's Fine Jewels sales in London and Geneva include an impressive selection of these charming pieces.

In the 1920s, ladies began carrying their cosmetics with them in vanity cases.  In the twenties, as women became increasingly independent, fashion trends changed.  Clothing became more relaxed and streamlined as layers of fabric were discarded giving way to slip dresses and the Chanel jersey suits, leaving no room to hide away accessories such as lipstick and powder.  This era of couturier demanded a solution.

compacts-817ge1812.jpg

In the 1930s, Charles Arpels noticed his friend, the American heiress Florence Gould, throwing her lipstick, cigarette lighter, powder and a few bank notes in a Lucky Strike tin box.  After seeing this, Arpels invented the vanity case as the ultimate solution.

Miniatures demonstrate the most elevated type of craftsmanship; from the inside to the outside, engineering these precious objects took time and patience.  Upon opening a vanity case, you can see there is place for everything.  A lipstick holder, a pair of glasses, mirror, comb, cigarette lighter and powder compact can all unfold in the most streamlined way.  Each accessory has its place; there is no wasted space.  Creating these precious works of art was an exact science that required the most skilled of craftsman.  Each stage of production required flawless execution to continue the process.

The materials used for these cases also presented jewellers with infinite possibilities: precious stones, onyx, jade, mother of pearl lacquer, tortoise-shell – using craftsmanship and ingenuity, the greatest jewellery houses created cases of all designs, textures and colours. These compact cases provide a glimpse into the golden era of beauty and adornment.

CLICK HERE to view the full sale catalogue for the Geneva sale, and HERE for the London sale 

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.

Close