Elegant Belle Epoque
A gorgeous period which literally means “Beautiful Era”
... what’s not to love about that?
Encompassing the Arts and Craft, Art Nouveau and Edwardian style period
it was a time when the arts bloomed with the rediscovery of hand-crafting
techniques and the glories of the natural world. Though most famous in
Paris (the world of the Can-can, Gigi and Absinthe), during the period up to
World War One the global economy was booming and the new “celebrity” of
the big theatre (and soon film) stars like Lillie Langtry and Gaby Deslys made
everyone want to look like a starlet.
The first advent of cultured pearls made a look that was out of many peoples reach,
far more possible. Similarly marcasite jewellery had a rebirth during Queen Victoria’s
mourning as a more subtly sparkly alternative to the endless black. Later in the century it was a far cheaper option for many than diamonds or other precious stones. Marcasite has been used for decades and still is, so it’s easy to find but later pieces are either specifically Deco or much less grand than the Belle Époque would want you to be.
In the Edwardian period things became lighter and more delicate with delicate festoon necklaces, longer floatier costume and everyone wanted to be the beautiful and grand Queen Alexandra
Art Nouveau jewellery is some of the most stunningly beautiful and expensive to collect. Each piece is a work of art, so when you’re styling one stand-alone cracker is usually enough to go along side some simple supporting pieces. Liberty of London was the great champion of English art nouveau styles and designer – the Liberty print is still world famous.
Parasols for daywear – tall enough to lean on – think Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
Fans are fairly large, light pastel colours for the day or dark colours for the evening trimmed with lace or ostrich feathers.
Pearl chokers (known as dog collars) with long strings that surround your tightly corseted bosom, multiple layers for maximum opulence
Ornate garlands and swags in paste or marcasite necklaces and chokers: “festoon necklaces”
Jet, marcasite, amethyst, cameos
Brooches to match (often removable from tiaras or pendant necklaces)
Art nouveau enamelling and natural motifs, birds, flowers, butterflies
Tiaras – for the grand aristocratic lady, an absolute must!