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Line Vautrin

French  •  1913-1997

Biography

After brief stints with the couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and a Parisian photography firm, Line Vautrin taught herself metal foundry, which had been her father's trade, and went door-to-door selling her cast jewelry. In 1937 she rented a stand at the Paris International Exposition that attracted enough clientele for her to open a shop in the Rue de Berri. As business improved, she moved to the more fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Vautrin started out making jewelry, belts, powder compacts and buttons: At the time, the term for her line of work was parurière (one who makes and sells fashion accessories).

Eventually, however, she hit on her signature style, developing a material she coined talosel, which comprised layers of cellulose acetate that she carved, gouged, molded and encrusted with colored mirrored glass. This new material enabled her to expand her repertoire to include larger objects such as the mirrors for which she is best known today. The objects that she created in talosel are unlike any others — original, exuberant modern designs that, with the accretions and texture of the scarified talosel, carry the aura of ancient, time-worn relics. Vautrin credited the London art dealer David Gill with re-discovering her work at a 1986 auction of her property in Paris. Her work entered the collection of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and since then has gained major traction in the twentieth-century design market.

Insights

  • In 1967 Vautrin opened a craft school which she called the Association for the Development of the Manual Arts (A.D.A.M.).

  • An exhibition on Line Vautrin, 'Secret de bijoux: Line Vautrin et onze créateurs d’aujourd'hui,' was held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1999.

"Whether it is metal, enamel, or whatever, I have always liked actually to handle my materials. Above all, I loved to make up stories and bring them to life by inventing shapes."

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