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Behind the Design: The Legacy of René Lalique

Enter the World of René Lalique With Gallery Gifts

In the vocabulary of interior design and décor, you would be hard-pressed to find another brand as synonymous with French luxury as Lalique. This iconic brand has stood the test of time with its elegant colours and bold designs. But the history behind Lalique is just as captivating as the items they produce.

Who was René Lalique?

René Lalique

René Jules Lalique was born in 1860 in Aÿ-en-Champagne, Marne, France, but raised in the hustle-bustle of Paris. At age 20, following the death of his father, René Lalique became an apprentice to legendary Parisian craftsman and jeweller Louis Aucoc, where he learned jewellery-making techniques and attended the École des Arts Décoratifs. After a brief stint here in the UK, René Lalique returned to France in 1885 as an independent designer for some of the great jewellery houses like Jacta, Cartier and Boucheron, where he made a name for himself. In 1888, René Lalique ventured out on his own, creating the first Lalique workshop and paving the way for the Lalique we know today.

A Founder of the Art Nouveau Style

René Lalique’s design language drew from combining two pools of inspiration: Antiquity and Japonism. He was fascinated with the use of mixed materials to convey stories of power, light and colour in jewellery, which went against the norms of ornate and lavish styles at the time. René Lalique combined gold and gemstones with semi-precious stones, mother-of-pearl, ivory and horn, in addition to enamel, glasswork and molten crystal, to create a new design language that retroactively became known as the Art Nouveau style. René Lalique’s pieces all carried the now-iconic “RL” stamp and engraving.

The Rise of Lalique

With a unique and highly sought after style to jewellery making, René Lalique opened his third workshop in 1890 with the vision to experiment with what can be accomplished through glasswork. This era is when Lalique began producing its signature animal designs.

René Lalique’s desire to “create something that had never been seen before” earned him the accolade of “inventor of modern jewellery” and won many awards, forging his reputation. When René Lalique took part in the 1900 Great Exhibition in Paris, it was the crowning moment of René Lalique’s career as a jeweller. It was that same year he was also named Officer of the French Legion d’Honneur, with the Lalique brand rising in popularity across Europe.

In 1905, Lalique began venturing outside of purely crafting jewellery, and in 1907 partnered with Perfumer François Coty to start producing lavish perfume bottles the as the world had never seen before. René Lalique expanded his design language to incorporate François Coty’s art deco style, earning credit as being a pioneer in that field of art design too.

Over the next decade, the Lalique brand would become synonymous with glass design, and René Lalique would be sought after for all types of projects, including advising on innovating new mechanical glassmaking techniques.

Finding a Home in Verrerie d’Alsace

By 1922, Lalique has grown into the go-to name in French glassmaking, beyond jewellery and perfume, and into architectural projects and luxury transportation. René Lalique had become a major proponent of modern industrial techniques to handcraft his pieces, but the volume of work required a factory unlike no other. René Lalique and his team of glass artisans found a home in Wingen-sur-Moder in Alsace, France. Located in the heart of a glassmaking stronghold, Lalique’s Verrerie d’Alsace glassworks factory is to this day Lalique’s only factory.

René Lalique’s Vision Lives On

René Jules Lalique died in 1945, leaving a lasting legacy that carried on through his family: son Marc Lalique, who introduced innovations in crystal work to the brand, and granddaughter Marie-Claude Lalique, who refocused Lalique back to its roots of traditional jewellery design and perfume.

Lalique UK

In 2008, Swiss luxury group Art & Fragrance acquired Lalique and transformed the brand even further, expanding the glass and crystal work to feature collections of decorative items, vases, figurines, art and fine jewellery. Each and every piece crafted by Lalique carries the values and design principles René Lalique instilled in the brand as far back as 1888.

Browse our full range of Lalique products, online here or in-store at one of our locations, with exclusive pricing on certain Lalique items only available to Gallery Gifts customers.

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