As far as style icons go, they don’t get more OG than this lady. Empress Joséphine – the most high-profile woman in France for a time following the Emperor Napoleon’s rise to power post-Revolution – seriously deserved to be labelled the First Lady of Fashion.

Unlike Queen Marie Antoinette before her, who was infamous for her extravagance and almost gaudy get-ups, Josephine was lauded for her elegance and exquisite taste.

She might have been just as extravagant as her ‘eat cake’ predecessor, but there was none of the gauche showmanship in the Emperess’s world. After all, how could any woman famous for her love of nature and gardening be anything but chic?

Her wedding jewellery was case in point. Designed by Marie-Étienne Nitot – the founder of now iconic Parisian fine jewellery house Chaumet, who also crafted Napoleon’s coronation crown – her pieces were an elegant, but modern mix of gemstones and pearls. Her engagement ring, a pear-shaped sapphire and diamond side by side that would still look just as chic on the wedding finger of an A-list celebrity or style star today.

The Chaumet engagement ring given by Emperor Napoleon to Josephine. (Credit: Archives)

For an 18th century aristocrat, Joséphine was incredibly modern in her approach to style, and thanks to an upbringing on the island of Martinique, she had a joie de vivre for life and freedom that translated to her clothes.

Casting off the tight corsets and powered wigs of the day, she instead wore nature-inspired colours tulles, light voiles and chiffons. Her jewellery, inspired by her love of the ocean and nature, would work just as well on an Oscars red carpet today.

Carey Mulligan wearing Dior Haute Couture and Chaumet earrings at Cannes Film Festival 2018. (Credit: Supplied)

As Empress, she invented looks that other women copied: her penchant for stacking jewellery in varied materials like pearls, diamonds and gold quickly became the go-to society look. Essentially, she was the ultimate ‘influencer’ of her day.

That’s not to say the woman born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie lived a completely charmed celebrity life. Having been exiled from Martinique, imprisoned after the beheading of her first husband (the father of her three children), divorced from Napoleon because she couldn’t bear him children, then buried at 50, an age that was still considered young for nobility even in the 17th Century, her life was like a dramatic movie script. Her legacy is a woman as fascinating now as she was influential then.

Part of the Chaumet boutique in Chadstone, Melbourne. (Credit: Supplied)

Fittingly, she is still a muse for the Maison of Chaumet and in her honour, it has created a collection of fine jewellery capturing elements of her personal style, legacy to fashion and own collection.

Called Joséphine (because, what else?), the range includes gemstones like amethyst, aquamarine and citrine, nods to her famous penchant for stacking and layering, and is dotted with her beloved pearls and pear-shaped diamonds. They’re elegant, chic and just a little bit flamboyant – everything a modern-day celebrity hopes to inject into their red carpet looks.

GALLERY: A CLOSE-UP THE JOSEPHINE COLLECTION

 

Brought to life through beautiful installations that recreated the mood of Joséphine’s Apartment – with soft pink walls and interactive booths showcasing the pieces created in her honour – the limited edition pieces are a must-visit for fine jewellery connoisseurs.

To celebrate the occasion, Chaumet hosted intimate parties at its recently-opened Melbourne Chadstone and Sydney Westfield boutiques inviting guests into a world of glamour and fantasy.

Parisian gemmologists introduced the evening touching on the history of the Maison and teaching guests on the diamonds and coloured gemstones – demonstrating the mastery of the pieces and the fine workmanship behind them. Special guest, Kate Waterhouse wore the new precious Josephine Aigrette and symbolised a modern-day Josephine – a vision of beauty and class. Other guests included celebrity stylist Elliot Garnaut and influencer Jessica Alizzi.

Jessica Alizzi at the opening of Josephine’s Apartment in the Chaumet Melbourne boutique. (Credit: Supplied)

To bring the collection to life, GRAZIA photographed modern-day influencer Lichi Pan wearing nothing but the Josephine collection, sitting amongst some of the Emperess’s most loved blooms. However, as is always the case with pieces of artwork, to see them in their fullest glory you need requires an up-close experience. For your very own Josephine moment, visit one of the Australia boutiques detailed here.

GRAZIA FASHION SHOOT: LICHI PAN’s magical Chaumet Josephine moment

Josephine Aigrette Garnet Ring (083340) $10,405. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Akoya Pearl Ring (083289) $10,785. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Aquamarine Ring (083297) $10,405. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in White Gold (083590) $6,265. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in Pink Gold (083517) $5,885. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Double Pearl Diamond Band (083292) $7,380. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Diamond Bracelet (083294) $6,055. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Diamond and Akoya Pearl Bracelet (083295) $6,620. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Aquamarine Earring (083367) $5,485. SHOP IN STORE

Josephine Aigrette Aquamarine Ring (083297) $10,405.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in White Gold (083590) $6,265 (two worn). SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in Pink Gold (083517) $5,885.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Double Pearl Diamond Band (083292) $7,380.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Diamond Bracelet (083294) $6,055.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Diamond and Akoya Pearl Bracelet (083295) $6,620. SHOP IN STORE

Josephine Diamond Bracelet (083294) $6,055. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Diamond and Akoya Pearl Bracelet (083295) $6,620. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Aquamarine Ring (083297) $10,405. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Garnet Ring (083340) $10,405 (TWO WORN). SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in White Gold (083590) $6,265.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Diamond Band in Pink Gold (083517) $5,885. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Double Pearl Diamond Band (083292) $7,380. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Tiara Diamond Ring in Pink Gold (083511) $11,560. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Tiara Diamond Ring in White Gold (083510) $12,300. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Akoya Pearl Ring (083289) $10,785. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Eclat Floral Pink Sapphire Ring (J3MQSR) POA.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aigrette Imperiale Pink Sapphire Ring (082756) POA.  SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aube Printaniere Blue Sapphire Ring (082074) POA. SHOP IN STORE
Josephine Aube Printaniere Pink Sapphire Ring (082121) POA. SHOP IN STORE

SHOOT CREDITS
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jack Steel
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Dane Stojanovic
CREATIVE DIRECTION AND MODEL: Lichi Pan

thoughts?