A gem-set vanity case by Boucheron
France, circa 1940
The rectangular bi-coloured box, with pierced hinged cover and raised edge, depicting birds and flowering foliage with engraved detailing, set with circular cabochon-cut rubies on mirrored backing, the reeded sides and base with a similarly designed wedge shaped thumb piece, opening to reveal a single compartment and foldable mirror, French hallmarks for 18 carat gold, signed Boucheron Paris and numbered 875012.
L. 5.7 x W. 7.5 cm / L. 2.2 x W. 3 in
Gross weight approx. 162.6 g
An embellished case that serves many different roles, the vanity case – also called a minaudière – is both a clutch and compact case allowing for ultimate yet discrete storage for one’s accessories. In the twenties, as women became increasingly independent, fashion trends changed. Clothing became more relaxed and streamlined as layers of fabric were discarded giving way to slip dresses and the Chanel jersey suits, leaving no room to hide away accessories such as lipstick and powder. This era of couturier demanded a solution. Charles Arpels noticed his friend, the American heiress Florence Gould, throwing her lipstick, cigarette lighter, powder and a few bank notes in a Lucky Strike tin box. After seeing this, Arpels invented the vanity case as the ultimate solution. Creating these precious works of art was an exact science that required the most skilled of craftsman. Each stage of production required flawless execution to continue the process.