When we talk about fashion and style, women all around the world look up to Parisians for their effortlessness in putting together a chic look. Indeed, we know them to be elegant stylists who know just the right amount of color and jewelry to go with their outfit. It is only natural that a woman who knows the ins and outs of Parisian style emerge not only as a top designer but also a jeweler who pins down the glamour of the past with her use of animal and insect designs. Yvonne Léon has captured the attention both of fellow well-dressed French ladies as well as foreigners since the earlier part of the decade, and continues to do so today.
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The girl with pearls and diamonds under her ear
Yvonne Léon has the love for jewelry embedded right in her DNA, and had that nurtured by being surrounded by relatives in France and Canada who have an eye for beauty and was involved in jewelry trade. However, she did not need to search further as her father himself has created a mark in jewelry making by creating “Le dessous d’oreille”, or an ear jacket, which starts just like your usual ear stud but makes your earlobe fancier with the addition of other gems and metals. He was inspired by the wish of his wife to wear something new on her ear without having to pierce them again, and even adorned young Yvonne with them. It was a style that has been replicated since then.
Still, Léon’s journey to becoming a jeweler wasn’t straightforward. She initially took up fashion design at the prestigious fashion school Esmod, located in Paris, and began her career first as a stylist and an editorial assistant. The beautiful gems she grew up with called onto her, though, and in 2009 she started creating her own jewelry with the encouragement of her parents. She was thankful for the little detour though as her previous experience let her become much more open-minded as well as knowledgeable in fashion and style.
With her self-named brand, Léon often revisits her father’s original ear jacket design, but adding her own touch by playing with pearls, diamonds and other gems, and creating them into shapes that resemble bees, dragonflies, owls, even sharks. She has also designed them with the thought of wanting to wear them in mind, and luckily for her, many of those who see her creations feel the same way.
Inspiration from the humblest of places
For inspiration, Léon often starts with museums and flea markets, the latter more often than the former. It is where she scours every nook and cranny to find her next model for her designs, and is often motivated by the vintage things sold there, which is partly a reason why her work pegs the vibe even though she is way younger than most established jewelry makers.
She draws from the 1930s for most of her designs because the decade was significant for the use of accessories, and she also often incorporates pearls into her work. Precious pearls such as the Japanese variation fascinate her because of their association with the older generation. Through her fun designs, she, as well as other jewelers, are slowly making them appealing to a modern audience once again. Besides pearls, Léon also works with diamonds and 18-karat gold, although she thinks that the market is saturated for the former. She makes sure that the stones and metals they work with are of the finest quality, and relies on a team of expert craftsmen to piece her designs by hand, working in her Parisian studio.
Léon’s creations can be set apart from the rest for their Parisian charm, modern lines, vintage vibe, and jewels created in the likeness of animals and insects. She has fun with animal motifs because of the textures and colors that can be put in, ending with awe-inspiring and exciting accessories. In fact, it was with the bee ear jacket that her work was first noticed, and she continues to craft more that take after images from nature.
Paris and celebrity approved
Yvonne Léon’s lovely jewelry have been spotted on French actress Camille Cottin as well as singer Rihanna, but the designer wants her pieces to be enjoyed by most. Although targeted mostly to women of the times who are experimental in their accessories, she wants to appeal to both the old and the young, the classy as well as the trendy.
Her works aren’t hard to find as they are sold in boutiques in France, the United States and Canada as well as other European nations, Asia and Africa. If you’re prioritizing convenience, you can browse through her online shop. Browns, Montaigne Market, and Net-a-Porter are also authorized retailers for her creations.