Introducing the jeweller to the stars, including Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Florence Pugh and more.
Pictured: Tatiana Verstraeten
Pictured: Tatiana Verstraeten
Cate Blanchett, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Florence Pugh, Zazie Beetz, Daisy Ridley – for a burgeoning label, it would be an honour to even have one of those names attached to your repertoire. But one jeweller who has managed the staggering success of having all of them clamouring to wear her pieces, is Tatiana Verstraeten.
The youngest jewellery at legendary Parisian fashion square Place Vendôme, the Belgian-born designer started out cutting her teeth working in accessories for Chanel, enlisted personally by the late Karl Lagerfeld himself. Fast forward eight years, and in 2018 Verstraeten took her sought-after skillset and started her eponymous fine-jewellery brand during Paris Fashion Week – a distinctive marriage of traditional jewellery techniques with an ultra-contemporary twist.
Her signature piece is the Fringe earring: a cascading waterfall of pearls, gold threads and diamonds adorning the ear with starry potential akin to a meteor shower.
We caught up with Verstraeten and talked about her journey so far, advice for any budding designers, and her celebrity clientele…
(LEFT) A model wearing one of Tatiana Verstraeten’s pieces
(RIGHT) Emma Watson wearing one of Tatiana Verstraeten’s pieces
A model wearing one of Tatiana Verstraeten’s pieces
Emma Watson wearing one of Tatiana Verstraeten’s pieces
You went to business school and ended up working in design with Karl Lagerfeld. A dream job – where and how did you learn to create and design?
At home my mother has her own atelier and I started very young drawing, painting, sculpting clay with her. A doctor by trade, her passion was to paint and sculpt and she even did the BeauxArts at 50. Drawing is like a language that I’ve always been speaking and perfecting since my early age. When working with Karl, when creating 8 collections a year at CHANEL, I learned quickly how to bring my drawings to life, into an object.
As a young designer what inspires you most and where do you find the creativity to push the boundaries?
My ideas are often inspired by the intangible: a light, a movement. It is a question of a few seconds, an uncontrolled process. It often happens when I am relaxed and disconnected from work. You feel something new, fresh, beautiful just cross your mind, which can embellish a female body remarkably. Then you take the time you need to translate your vision into a piece of jewellery.
What would you tell an aspiring designer today about success and failure?
You need success to build courage, and to help you believe in yourself. But failures help you learn more and make your stronger. There will be stumbling blocks that lead to failure (even if it’s not your fault like the corona), and some big ones, but they are obstacles for you to learn to jump even higher. Be strong, nothing is easy. Stay awake and be ready to work a lot. Think of an athlete: you can be the best, and experience success, but still only one failure will cost you a lot. You need mental strength.
You set up on the traditional Place Vendôme Which has years of legacy in jewellery making? How were you welcomed in the space of high jewellery by the competition?
My early selection (before I launched in January 2019) for both GemGeneve 2019 and for an exhibition at Sotheby’s in New York fortunately confirmed my credibility in the high jewellery world. I feel blessed to have been welcome that way. I can’t thank Vivienne Becker more for discovering my work at a very early stage and sharing her encouragement, advice, and respect with the very young designer I was.
If a client where to describe Tatiana Verstraeten jewellery what would you like them to say? What sets you apart from other jewellers?
It is a pleasure to hear that my work is “different”. I am also amused when my friends say “it’s very you, very Tatiana” because it really means I succeeded in having my own style; which is a huge achievement to be “recognisable”. I like when people say my jewels are very “couture”, because indeed I don’t try to make beautiful objects but to make objects that make women beautiful: just like a couture dress, my jewels come to life when they are worn. I mean a couture dress lying on a bed is something for sure, but the same dress is everything when worn!
Tatiana Verstraeten pictured at Place Vendôme
Tatiana Verstraeten pictured at Place Vendôme
Building a business must be exhausting: Where and when did you learn and practice your drive? And how do you find downtime and sources of creativity? What do you read, listen to and where will we find Tatiana Verstraeten?
I first learned by helping others. Very young I passionately supported a Redbull athlete (of course it was a matter of the heart) to build a career in sports, then a young talent Anthony VACCARELLO to develop and gain international recognition in the ultra-competitive world of fashion, and also Maison MICHEL Paris to become a brand. Today it is a real challenge to have my own brand, and to find the right balance between my CEO and my designer hat. Travelling is definitively the way I disconnect (even for a day) from my CEO responsibilities and create. But I need more and more creative time and wish I could find my other half soon to handle the business side and to let my mind wonder more.
Where can you find me?
In summer, you can find me with my book in a sunny place (probably Italy) where the music sings deliciously around dinner time in the kitchen and evenings are warm, cooking with my friends, then dancing late in a large pullover (my ideal state of happiness). More seriously I am sharing my time between big cities; Paris and London a lot, NY regularly, LA around the Oscars or to see my friends, Cannes for the film festival, Venice for the Mostra… I actually tend to follow the film industry calendar more than expected thanks to of the talented actresses endorsing my jewels and I really like to have having my jewellery world mixed with the movie industry.
You have quickly become the jeweller to the stars. How do you find the right celebrity to dress?
Our celebrities choose us too! I am grateful to be approached by beautiful legends (Cate Blanchett, or Laura Dern) but also amazing uprising talent: I am thinking of Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Florence Pugh, Vicky Krieps, Zazie Beetz, Daisy Ridley… I am so proud of them and believe that they will be going far far.
You recently entered a partnership with UN Women – what does this mean to you and why have you chosen this charity?
UN WOMEN is the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was a longstanding and precious wish of mine to contribute to such an important philanthropic cause. TVJ will help raise funds to finance UN WOMEN programs around the world, and also promote its actions worldwide. The choice was evident. A lot of talented actresses that choose to wear my jewellery are also activists and role models for other women, they have started utilising their platforms to speak out. Thanks to social media they are able to encourage ideas and educate people for a better tomorrow. With my jewellery I celebrate women, their beauty, their talent, their awards, their film but I want to do much more. I want to stand up together for all those that cannot speak aloud. I believe in the mindset of our generation to bring an era of big change.