How Cartier's Apprentice Taught American Women Parisian Chic: Jewelry Designer Marcel Boucher
How Cartier's Apprentice Taught American Women Parisian Chic: Jewelry Designer Marcel Boucher

Today the Boucher brand is known only to connoisseurs of vintage jewelry, but once its creator was one of the first to show fashionistas and fashionistas that chic is not only gold and diamonds. Marcel Boucher's brand was born in the dark times of the Great Depression, survived the crucible of World War II and became synonymous with luxury - even if its birds of paradise and quivering lilies were not created from precious materials.

Boucher brooch and bracelet

Marcel Boucher was born in Paris in 1898 or 1899. At an early age, he lost his father, his mother, a seamstress, raised her son on her own, not counting on anyone's support. During the First World War, Boucher, as the only son of a widow, escaped the front-line horrors - he served as an ambulance orderly. And after the war he came to work … in Cartier.

Boucher flower brooches

He started out with the hard work of an apprentice, but he quickly learned and soon achieved significant success in the art of jewelry. In 1922, Marcel Boucher moved to New York, to the American branch of Cartier as a designer. As a pupil of Pierre Cartier, he strictly followed the style of the jewelry house and was already famous for his endless, almost manic pursuit of perfection in those years, but here, like in the history of many jewelry brands, the Great Depression intervened. The demand for jewelry plummeted. Cartier suffered significant losses, and Boucher, believing that "this train is on fire", left the jewelry house. For a while, he worked for another brand that made silver jewelry. Boucher created richly decorated buckles, watch bracelets and many other jewelry - and he was struck by the possibilities of working with alloys and ornamental stones. In addition, his creative imagination was no longer limited by the reputation of the brand, "solidity", the demands of wealthy customers … In 1937 he set out on a free voyage and started his own business with his first wife Jeanne and merchant Arthur Halberstadt, who had previously been involved in the sale of products. the main "jewelry monster" - the company Trifari.

Boucher flower brooches. New materials made it possible to make them large, but light

Boucher became the preachers of Parisian style in the United States. Boucher developed intricate yet sophisticated forms of jewelry. His early works were inspired by the ladies' fashion of those years - ribbons and bows, inlaid with crystals of complex shades. He used enamels, pure semi-precious stones, high quality alloys. In some collections, he preferred limited colors - for example, white crystals combined with pearls to create an ice effect.

Brooches Boucher

Lightweight designs and the latest materials made it possible to make large jewelry with non-trivial images. Ballerinas and exotic birds, huge flowers, and even … vegetables appear on the dresses and coats of American women of fashion. Radishes, corn, hot peppers - original and ironic motives that Boucher offered the public without a shadow of a doubt.

Brooches of unusual shape

He also invented mechanical brooches - his flowers opened petals, revealing to the world shimmering stones, for the time being hidden in the bud. The cut of crystal and crystals was so skillful that they were not inferior to real diamonds.

Boucher bird brooches Boucher bird brooches

Boucher always treated advertising with some disdain, although some glossy magazines promoted his products. He believed that a worthy brand can be popular without advertising, the main thing is design and product quality. But he actively fought for the observance of copyright, patented not only technology and designs, but even the very form of products.All Boucher jewelry has been labeled, numbered and cataloged. Marcel Boucher fought plagiarists who mushroomed after rain and won several patent infringement lawsuits.

Boucher bird brooches are the brand's most popular pieces

Few of those who started a business in the fashion industry on the eve of World War II managed to retain jobs, clientele and turnover afterwards. However, during this difficult period, Boucher decided to move production … to Mexico - and this saved his enterprise. The Second World War was a crisis period for American jewelry brands also because the necessary materials - primarily sterling silver - were used for the needs of the military industry, and production sites were converted to produce ammunition. However, in Mexico the situation was different - there jewelry manufacturers could find a sufficient amount of high-quality and at the same time inexpensive silver. Boucher was the first to explore this gold - or rather, silver - vein.

Boucher lily-shaped brooches

In the post-war period, Boucher began to create ever larger, more detailed and vibrant pieces of jewelry. Bulky Boucher brooches in the form of birds and insects were at the height of fashion. They perfectly matched the course for femininity and luxury set by Christian Dior. According to his second wife, Raymonda Semenson (acquaintances called her Sandra), Boucher's motto was only one word - "Chic". Raymonda Semenson began working with Boucher as a design assistant in 1948. In 1965, Boucher divorced his first wife and married Sandra. Jeanne never accepted his betrayal, calling herself Boucher's wife until the end of her life. A year after the scandalous divorce, Boucher passed away. Boucher was a small company - the number of its employees never exceeded seventy, despite the growth in production. All decorations were designed by Boucher himself. The new president of Boucher was Sandra, who had experience as a designer (besides Boucher, she also collaborated with Harry Winston). However, it became clear that without the brand's creator it would be almost impossible to stay afloat.

Brooches Boucher

However, under the leadership of Sandra Boucher existed as an independent brand for more than ten years, and then the company was sold to the Canadian watch company D'Orlan Industries of Toronto. In 1977 Boucher, as part of D'Orlan, released a watch collection - and ceased to exist. Today, Boucher-branded products are not produced and can only be found in vintage jewelry stores and online auctions. Several Boucher brooches - especially from the collection “Months of the Year” - are already recognized as collectors' rarities.

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