In the early 19th century Van Cleef a light went on, and a new industry was born. Van Cleef created a hard sided, jeweled evening purse. He coined it a Minaudiere, a French term for a coquettish woman. Today, the Minaudiere is the ultimate formal evening purse; always hard sided, generally jeweled, definitely the ultimate style.
In the mid-18th century Peter Carl Fabergé created objets dart for the Czars of Russia.
Using precious metals and gemstones, guilloché and exotic enamels, he rewrote the book on art quality and design. Fabergé’s emphasis was on fine craftsmanship, creativity, and beauty in his work—rather than focus merely on the size of the gems he was setting, as had been the case with other traditional jewelry designers.
In 1991 Alex Caldwell, after observing young ladies carrying small, stringy purses at a Xanadu Mardi Gras Ball, decided he could design a more elegant Minaudiere. He created a hard-sided evening purse, made with an ostrich egg, Swarovski jewels and golden findings. The response was overwhelming. He named the new business Vivian Alexander, using his, and his girlfriend’s first names.
Alexander was invited to the Forbes Museum in New York to study Malcolm Forbes’ Fabergé collection, the finest in the world, and to contribute his personal work to their growing collection of Faberge memorabilia. For seven years Alexander traveled to New York, coordinated with the Forbes Museum curator, and studied the minute details of the works of Fabergé in person and in private (with armed guards looking on).
Today, Vivian Alexander uses the studies of the works of Van Cleef & Arpels and Fabergé to create the most important minudières available in the world. These hard-sided elegant evening purses are uniquely made with fine (.999) silver, beautiful guilloché patterns, translucent enamels and Swarovski crystals. Custom designed gold findings are combined to create intricate, fashion forward, jewelry-quality pieces. Suitable for the finest occasions, we will custom design a minudière to accent your evening wear, color match the enamels and crystals used to your satisfaction and deliver it to you on time and within budget.
Study our extensive web site, vivianalexander.com, for design ideas for custom work, send us an image of your gown, or select one of the many minudières that are already made and ready to ship. We specialize in bespoke work. Your dramatic entrance is our billboard.
Merri-Go-Round Silver Minaudiére
Vivian Alexander made this design to emphasize the large palette of enamel colors available. This minaudiére is one of our classic sterling silver proﬁles; we call it our ‘apple’ purse. The surface of this armature has been engine turned, or guillochéd to produce a brilliant shimmer that can be seen beneath the translucent enamels. The purse is about four inches in diameter and four and one-half inches tall, enough for your lipstick and keys, but too small for your smart phone. The vibrant enamels used on this purse are a dramatic example of the beauty derived from guilloché. The ﬁne lines engraved into the pure silver give a visual depth that can be achieved no other way. The purse is ready to ship, but if you have the time, we can create a bespoke piece in whatever colors and whatever design you desire.
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