LALIQUE - the ultimate symbol of French luxury. In conversation with Frederick Fischer, Managing Di
It has been 130 years since Rene Lalique founded his company in 1888. Lalique is without doubt the ultimate symbol of French luxury. Lalique epitomises lifestyle at its very best.
The utterly chic showroom in Conduit Street, Mayfair, London
Lalique began his early career as a freelance designer working for Cartier and Boucheron amongst others. Rene Lalique is considered the indisputable master of jewellery design in the Art Nouveau style. By the 1890s, he was making jewellery for dancer Sarah Bernhardt for the stage, hence the term 'costume jewellery'. Within a decade of opening his first shop, Lalique decided to open a new shop in Place Vendome Paris which exhibited not only his jewellery collection, but glass objects he had crafted. Large architectural, interior commissions and decorative objects all created in glass became his main creative output. Today, the brand is best-known for producing decorative objects, glasses, decanters, perfume bottles, fragrances, jewellery, chandeliers and automobile hood ornaments.
With a magnificent Swallow Vase, The Hirondelle Collection
Lalique's work caught the eye of perfumer Francois Coty who had a shop nearby. He invited Lalique to design labels for his perfumes and later the glass bottles. Their partnership revolutionised the perfume industry. It was the first time perfumes were packaged in distinctive beautiful bottles and was a huge success. Today in both showrooms, Lalique still sells an extensive range of perfumes all in exquisite bottles.
Lalique was fascinated by nature: floral, fauna and the female form, which provided the richest inspiration for his creations. Lalique's sensuous side is clearly expressed in the partially nude women cloaked in wisteria, standing at the base of a tree or dancing wildly. Lalique used a variety of materials, gold, enamel, glass, semi precious stones. His beautiful pieces always depicted a fairytale, mythical theme.
A collaboration between Lalique and McLaren, the Essence of Speed collection, celebrates the performance of one of the most iconic and successful teams in Formula 1 history. Launching in late 2018, Essence of Speed will depict three animals in clear crystal. These symbols of speed will be limited editions. I am pictured here with the first one of the series, a stunning sprinting Cheetah.
Photographs fail to do justice to such magical works.
Both showrooms have exquisite pieces ranging from rings to chandeliers. Burlington Arcade is a little gem, and the staff are utterly charming and helpful. To see absolute masterpieces of Lalique's work; Claridges Hotel London, The Ritz Rivoli Bar London, and of course the Orient Express train, are great locations to visit and see these magical pieces showcased.
Claridges Hotel London
The Orient Express Dining Room
The Fumoir Bar at Claridges London
I met with Frederick Fischer, Managing Director at Lalique UK
Q: Firstly, Congratulations on the 130th anniversary. Lalique is without a doubt the ultimate symbol of luxury. Tell me about Lalique today.
A: René Lalique was an innovator and worked in many areas during his career gaining recognition as one of the leading designers of the late19 and early 20th centuries. As we celebrate his 130 year legacy, we are really coming back to the true sense of the brand, building a bridge between past and future. Lalique today is a diversified brand that epitomizes luxury lifestyle in all its forms: decorative objects, glasses, decanters, jewellery, art, fragrances, interior design, hospitality and gastronomy.
Q: There are so many beautiful pieces. What is the secret to the continued success and ability to appeal to everyone year after year?
A: René Lalique’s creative genius is timeless and at the centre of our inspiration it is with admiration and respect for this supreme artist, we continue to innovate in all areas. We keep our heritage alive by creating new collections and reinventing classic models (such as the legendary Bacchantes vase which was designed by René Lalique in 1927) in new colours and finishes.
Over the past ten years we have opened more than 30 new flagship stores, boutiques and showrooms worldwide. We also work with partners such as Singapore International Airlines - which was just voted best airline in the world for the 5th time in a row - and prestigious luxury brands, artists and designers who share the same values and standards of quality using age old techniques and designs in new ways. All of these efforts keep our heritage alive.
Q: How has the showroom in London developed over the years?
A: London was the second showroom in the world after Paris opened in 1938 and we have grown and expanded during that time – we now have boutiques in Harrods, Conduit Street in Mayfair and Burlington Arcade.
At the Burlington Arcade Showroom. It is charming. Behind me the iconic Bacchantes vases depicting the beauty of the female form.
The Burlington Arcade showroom
Q: In your opinion, is there one piece that personifies the exquisite beautify of Lalique?
A: I don’t think I could pick just one piece - I love the classics; the Bacchantes, The Mossi Vase and Languedoc but for sheer usability and functionality I would say the 100 points collection we developed with James Suckling is hard to beat – it really is the only wine glass you need.
"Beautiful yet functional"
Q: Which piece to you think Rene Lalique would be most proud of today and why?
A: Rene Lalique was an innovator and I think he’d be most proud of the way we continue to keep his legacy alive but continue to move forward. The Lalique Museum in Wingen sur Moder Alsace – just five minutes from the original and only Lalique factory - is owned by the French state, an exceptional architecturally designed building, the museum houses more than 650 objects created by Rene Lalique and it is testament to his lasting legacy that it now attracts around 70,000 visitors per year.
Lalique Art places the expertise of Lalique at the disposal of major contemporary artists, designers with flair and cultural foundations. In recent years, Lalique Art has created outstanding crystal artworks based on sculptures by Yves Klein and Rembrandt Bugatti, crystal architecture collections with Zaha Hadid and Mario Botta and contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor. Collaborations with artists such as Damien Hirst are audacious endeavors but René Lalique, who was himself a visionary and trend setter would no doubt have approved.
Q: I didn’t realise Rene Lalique started his career as a jewellery designer – can you tell us more about this?
A: Rene Lalique started his career designing jewellery for the likes of Cartier and Boucheron and trained in London at the Crystal Palace School of Art. He drew all his designs by hand and many of them and the original pieces are in the Lalique museum. As well as fine jewellery he worked with less expensive but creative materials and to this end was the founder of modern costume jewelry becoming the most celebrated Art Deco jewellery designer creating pieces for high profile celebrities and actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt ardt who became his muse.
Do you think they'll notice if i take this beauty? It matches my jacket too!
An iconic piece of fashion jewellery, the Cabochon ring has been an absolute treasure in the Lalique collection since Rene Lalique designed it in 1931. The beauty of Lalique is the abundant choice of exquisite pieces, varying from ornaments, decorative objects, to glasses to jewellery to fragrances.
I absolutely love the colour and design of this Languedoc vase
In 2018, The new Lalique Hotel and Restaurant opened at Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey. The latest Lalique hotel comprises 10 bedrooms and 3 suites, where four worlds come together: gastronomy, hospitality, crystal and wine. Jerome Schilling, former executive chef at the Villa Rene Lalique alongside 3-Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Klein, head the restaurant.
Thank you so much Frederick for the most interesting facts and history about such a fascinating man and his legacy.
Frederick joined the French crystal house Lalique in 2000. After a brief period in Paris, he is sent to London to “rescue” the Lalique Sloane Street boutique. 3 months became 17 years.
Frederick is promoted to Retail Manager in 2004 for Lalique UK, being in charge of the then 4 Lalique boutiques in London.
As the subsidiary of the French crystal house is modest in Britain, Frederick roles are unlimited: management, visual merchandising, training, clientele and local marketing.
In 2012, he becomes the Managing Director of Lalique UK. He since opened 4 new stores; one in Conduit Street, one in Bicester Village, one in Burlington Arcade and a concession in Harrods (second best T.O. worldwide)
Frederick being keen on architecture and being an expert in retail, has closely participated in the making of these stores (designing pieces of furniture and choosing décor materials).
In 2017, the Lalique British subsidiary was #1 in Europe and #4 in the world.
To view a further history of Lalique, the villa, the hotels, showrooms, please see www.lalique.com
Showrooms at Conduit Street Mayfair, Burlington Arcade and Harrods, London.