For the past 130 years there has been one defining name in the world of glass, a name synonymous the world over with grace of design and mastery of pioneering techniques. Since opening his first workshop in Paris in 1886, Rene Lalique has been a renowned name not just in glassware, but in each of the facets in which the now iconic brand have displayed their talents.
Originally a freelance designer, producing creations for such jewellery houses as Cartier and Boucheron, Rene Lalique’s story really starts with the opening of his own maison, where he was able to make his visions come to life. Previously the workshop of Lalique’s employer and mentor Jules Destape, the studio was already well-equipped to begin the work of making his creations reality.
For the next few years Rene Lalique became an established name in the world of fine jewellery. One of the first designers to fully embrace the Art Nouveau movement, his designs eschewed the precious metals and gemstones used by the majority of jewellers, instead focusing on the semi-precious and materials regarded by many as unsuitable for such high-value pieces. However these allowed colours and shapes that had not before been seen, earning the designer praise for his intertwining of symbolism and naturalism. Prizes were soon piled upon prizes, including the prestigious ‘Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.’ Yet as ever great success was copied and imitated, to the point where Lalique needed a new outlet for his creative talents, one which he found in the medium of glass.
Despite having dabbled in glass making before, it was the opening of the Lalique Glassworks in Combs-La-Ville, 1909 that really signalled the brand’s lateral movement into the field. In the workshop to the East of Paris, Rene Lalique experimented with the medium that soon became his primary domain. This was unveiled to the waiting public in the brand’s first glass-only exhibition in the Place Vendôme. So successful was this exhibition that soon after, Rene abandoned the world of jewellery in favour of focusing purely on glass.
Born from the artistry of their visionary founder, Lalique are one of the world’s most famous names in glass and crystal
By 1925, Lalique had two glass factories, so high was the demand for his creations. The brand’s repertoire covered every conceivable creative use for art, from the iconic perfume bottles and artistic statuettes, to vases, tableware and architectural design elements. It was a tie that saw the emergence of Art Deco as an overpowering artistic movement, one which Rene Lalique was eager to embrace. Softening the style’s bold lines and geometric shapes into fluid, minimalist forms, Lalique’s creations were revolutionary. Animals, plants and the female form, all were represented in the curving, tactile lines of Lalique glass. They combined innovative glass making techniques, each design fusing different forms of glass in single, cohesive pieces, from frosted and clear to coloured and textured.
This period was the height of Rene Lalique’s artistic skill, earning him the moniker of “the Rodin of transparencies” from acclaimed French author Maurice Rostand. It is a reputation that was hard won and well-earned and one which, nearly sixty years after the founder’s death, Lalique has retained and, indeed, expanded.
Today Lalique remains as much a paragon of creativity as in the golden era of Art Deco, forever adapting and modernising their designs. Their perfume bottles, especially their exclusive flacons are collected by the most discerning patrons the world over, while their sculptures and decorative pieces still hold a level of prestige that few of their contemporaries can match. Collaborations with leading brands, designers and experts, including world-famous marque Bentley and hugely influential wine critic James Suckling, have also yielded fantastic results. Alongside these are contemporary interpretations of some of Rene’s most iconic pieces, including the Mossi and Baccantes vases.
One of the most recent additions to the Lalique line is also one which signals the brand coming full-circle. While jewellery may have been discarded in favour of pure glass, today they form an integral element of the modern Lalique identity. Retaining the brand’s distinctive design features, the pieces take their cues from Lalique’s esteemed heritage, many of them replicating Rene’s famous hood ornaments and mascots. The designs re-envision the shapes and motifs that were present in Lalique’s original pieces, the flora and fauna of Art Nouveau along with some pieces echoing his Art Deco period.
One of the defining designers of his era, Rene Lalique’s artistic vision has inspired countless others, his creations some of the most sought after pieces of glass in the world. Though the eponymous founder himself may not be around to see it, the modern incarnation of his illustrious progeny has cultivated his legacy further in a brand that is known the world over for creative talent and consummate design.