After graduating from Studio Berçot, Charlotte Chesnais joined Nicolas Ghesquière's studio at Balenciaga as a ready-to-wear fashion designer. After 4 years, she is entrusted with the creation of jewelry. Subsequently, she collaborated with different fashion houses until founding her eponymous brand in 2015. In the same year, she won the accessory price of ANDAM. Talented and determined, the designer manages in a few years to make a name for herself in the competitive market of luxury.
The form is the genesis of the work of Charlotte Chesnais. She likes to explore volumes and different scales. Evolving in fashion, she first naturally applied her work to the jewel, she explores today other dimensions.
His friend Fabrice Paineau, editor-in-chief of Double magazine, recounts fragments of his creative career:
I immediately thought of this memory: her initial ideas which she showed me at the end of 2014, in my office. She was visiting me in her typical manner, rapid, concise, blonde, and by bike, I think. Then she laid out on the floor a whole pile of photos which did not constitute a mood board, but much more of a kind of riddle as to what she foresaw accomplishing with her small future business and its jewellery line. I thought it was too early. But I like being proven wrong, and thankfully she didn’t heed my advice, creating her line in only a few months, whereas others would have preferred to have spent time working on their business plan. Already a specialisation in emptiness? A calculated risk which she filled with the success of pieces transformed into strange shiny golden or silver worms, crawling upon fragile articulations. A curious abstract bestiary of curvilinear lines which, with the suppleness of a snake, tamed an ear or encircled a wrist… Creations which clutch at your neck without you wishing to remove them.
“Léonard, don’t you want any more? No, no, don’t take that sauce baby! It’s still too spicy for you. Sorry!” We had stopped on the way home, because the children had wanted nuggets. Us too, for that matter. We would be in Paris in an hour. “There, I’m listening, but if it drops, I’ll call you back. Ah yes! On that subject of jewellery which have become sculptures? I don’t know how to analyse that, I’m not distanced enough from it. And, what is having distance? Let’s say it’s a bit like the film Honey, I shrunk the kids. Here, its “Honey I enlargened the jewellery”, you see?”
But these four pieces of jewellery, designed to be like big brothers, how were they transformed into the bronze stentors and then exhibited here, in Marie-Laure’s painting workshop at the villa Noailles? What is their design? No design. The reasoning behind their development is not here, but much more in the development of a fertile imagination. She very quickly turned to 3D creations, near le Mans, far from Paris, in her family’s garage, working with iron and torturing a few wires. This took place in the Sarthe department. Even today Charlotte is looking for the deeper meaning behind her proposals. But have we found sufficient reason, and not with hindsight, for the shoe designs exhibited in the windows of the New York shop Bonwit Teller? Was it at this point that Andy W. started to compare his works to those of Rauschenberg and discovered the limitations of his own technique? A technique which he got around easily. One most know how to get over one’s own inspirations. Charlotte’s decision to create jewellery-sculptures — the order here is important — was taken as a result of an invitation by the festival d’Hyères. That of withdrawing from the overly busy walls mentioned above, of this sublime space, but with an ego as big as a house. Here where, simply exhibiting jewellery positioned upon velvet fabric, would not suffice, in her mind. It was necessary for her to enlarge what had already been imagined, not ornaments for ears, or fingers, but genuinely as primary surfaces in order to conquer other spaces, even the most tiny. What a risk to look for the lobe of an ear, to constrain it, and to leave it no option to appreciated the pleasures of gravity? Fittingly, a risk. The image which arises: apparently we have never landed on the other side of the moon. These are perhaps Charlotte’s intentions, to conquer the other sides of the body.
There are surfaces which bear no relationship with space, and this is the case of this jewellery. They are put in place here and think of nothing. Others, much more rare, as is the case here, are very much ideas upon emptiness as mentioned above: creations which take a risk with the body, even carrying it off. They maintain that there is a different materiality, much more important than the ostentatious show of silver, gold, or silver-gilt. Pieces which manage small and new spaces like a unique register consisting of wholeness and emptiness, the soft wilderness of an ear lobe, or the arête of a phalanx which has never been conquered, etc. The graphical lines of Charlotte Chesnais’s creations, produce strange routes, shortcuts where nothing stands in the way of an ear being held in the other way, of two fingers being intertwined… These are sometimes new territories in the world of fashion. Some of her very graphic creations have a little of the righteousness of Jean Arp’s works, the polished and shiny aspects of Constantin Brancusi’s creatures, or the complex dexterity of Pablo Gargallo’s. Of course. Of course. But here these references are too large to have not been foiled. There are no other stakes than that of having enlargened the aim of the lines or increased shapes which have been seen so many times. By becoming giants, these jewellery-sculptures show that there is no path so often cited in materials, but that these endeavours offer a shape whose different elements fit together and offer themselves up like strange shells. The light strikes the projections rather than the taut and polished surfaces.
Other artists have taken the opposing route, going from the large to the small, Alexander Calder’s jewellery, for example. Here, within this workshop, it is a matter of jewellery which has been expanded.