Alessandro Michele’s magical beasts are real and they live in Gucci’s Hortus Deliciarum.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

White gold and multi-stone Lion Head necklace, Gucci

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If life were a fairy tale, Alessandro Michele could possibly be the godfather with the magic wand. Not only has he successfully instigated the metamorphosis of the house of Gucci, he has also cast a spell on the world of luxury with his eclectic, maximalist vision across ready-to-wear, It accessories, home décor and beauty. But as the Renaissance man that he is, more is definitely more, and he has dreamt up yet another scintillating universe: Hortus Deliciarum, Gucci’s first high jewellery collection, which debuted at Haute Couture Week in Paris.

A collection of more than 200 pieces, mainly one-offs, I f life were a Hortus Deliciarum is designed with the House’s iconography in mind and is demarcated into three worlds: Animal Kingdom, Hearts & Arrows and Solitaires—seen through the prism of a mythical garden. Imagine a paradise where ancient fauna, magical bestiary and Roman gods are brought to life in kaleidoscopic bijoux.

The first wonderland is inhabited by mythical deities such as Dionysus and Triton, featured on gilded cuffs, double rings and chandelier earrings bedecked with vivid emeralds and sapphires. This sense of whimsy continues with the bee motif, whereby the queen bee is artfully entwined in an abstract composition of more than 300 diamonds that is designed to be worn across two fingers—three, if you have tiny hands.

Paying poetic homage to eternal love and the emblems associated with it is the second wonderland, Hearts & Arrows. With exuberant gemstone hearts and plumetipped sagittate arrows, the pink sapphire, yellow beryl and blue sapphire brooches pulsating with en tremblant movement allow you to wear your heart on your sleeve, wrist or chest. Alongside pieces influenced by the Rococo, Baroque and Georgian art movements  are religious talismans and coming-of-age tiaras crowned with double Gs.

And then there’s Solitaires, anchored by a single stone that epitomises decadence. Think flamboyant heart-cut aquamarines and rubellites of over 20 carats cradled in nests of gold ethically sourced through the Kering Responsible Gold Framework; pear-cut topazes, garnets and tourmalines in blooming hues of blush rosé, mandarin and grass juxtaposed with heirloom settings; and a 30-carat opal, carved into an ouroboros serpent that symbolises life, perched atop a golden ring. Each stone has been chosen for its organic and spiritual properties, and is set in a way that expresses Michele’s interpretation of imperfect beauty or what he terms “discordant symmetry”.

Rare and rarefied, Hortus Deliciarum is Gucci’s ode to the majesty of natural and supernatural worlds, spellbinding craftsmanship, and heritage symbols of love and power, exalted through the splendour of haute joaillerie.
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Clockwise from top: White gold, spinel, tsavorite and diamond Tiger Head ring; white gold, spinel and diamond Bee brooch; white gold, tsavorite and diamond Bee brooch; white gold, paraiba tourmaline and diamond Bee brooch; white gold and multi-stone Lion Head earrings; white gold and multi-stone Lion Head bracelet; white gold, ruby and diamond Tiger Head ring, Gucci
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With this debut comes Gucci’s first high jewellery boutique at Paris’s prestigious Place Vendôme. A contrast to the ornate creations, the elegantly muted enclave is plush and intimate, furnished with ebonised wood cabinets, antique mirrors and velvet furniture, almost like a monochromatic boudoir that houses Gucci’s fine and high jewellery.