Since he left the couture biz in 2009, Christian Lacroix shows up everywhere. Having already made jeans, home wares, perfume, books, cosmetics and lingerie—not to mention the uniforms worn by Air France staff—he now seems to be exploring everything else. This includes luxury hotels and their furnishings, work with the Spanish label Desigual and the design of stunning costumes for both ballet and theatre. But Lacroix’s latest Paris fashion first is designing the Medal of Marriage.
The Paris mint, la Monnaie de Paris, is one of the country’s oldest institutions. Although it was Louis XV who established its current HQ, the mint was active as far back as the ninth century. Its imposing building on the quai de Conti houses both a museum and an art gallery. Although la Monnaie is currently closed for renovations it has dubbed MétaLmorphoses, the busy shop and e-boutique remain open for business.
Providing commemorations of “the great events of life,” the mint’s medals are well known among Parisians. These decorations include medals for baptisms or birthdays as well as engagements, marriages and anniversaries. In addition to those coins we use every day, la Monnaie fabricates all the nation’s decorations and medals. Its commemorative pieces, however, are a specialty. The collections include a homage to Le Petit Prince as well as medals of French heroes such as Eiffel. It also makes special collections for comic-book fans. In fact, the mint’s boutique at 2, rue Guénégaud (Mon–Sat, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.) is a treasure trove of surprises. In addition to medals and regalia, there is classic jewelry.
Lacroix’s medals are not their first brush with Paris fashion. Back in 2009, la Monnaie struck a medal for the maison Chanel. Designed and signed by Karl Lagerfeld, it honored the 125th anniversary of that brand. However, since 2010, it is Christian Lacroix who has served as artistic adviser. Because his couture collections were famous for lavish bridal gowns and because Lacroix has long worked with wedding firms, he seemed a logical choice for the Marriage Medal. Plus, because civil unions—les PACS—are also popular here, Lacroix decided this ceremony deserved its own medal.
Both designs are enormously successful. Paris fashion critics gave them such acclaim that Lacroix is now at work on a baptism medal.
What attracted him about this particular adventure? The former couturier was once a coin collector. “As a kid I ruined myself spending on coins and medals; there was always something I simply had to have.” Plus: “The commission is an honor. This is the kind of thing of which my grandparents could be proud.”
With flowers and ribbons surmounted by a stylized dove, Lacroix’s marriage medal is both pretty and elegant. But the PACS commemorative is even more romantic. It features two unisexual profiles woven into a symbol of union. For newlyweds or a gay couple, either medal is a great gift. Each comes in bronze, gold or silver and there are various sizes to suit different budgets. The couple’s names and their union’s date are etched on the medal’s back with all engraving included in the price. Every purchase comes in a lovely, official box—with a wait of only two or three weeks.
For lovers of Paris fashion, those who found romance on holiday or dreamers of all descriptions, these are a find. But don’t take my word for it. Drop into the mint’s boutique and take a look for yourself. You don’t even have to be here; it’s all online.
If your visits to Paris are mostly virtual, you will still enjoy the mint’s exhibit “Art and Money.” Online expositions continue for the duration of the Monnaie renovation.
For all of 2012, Christian Lacroix’s wonderful costumes for the ballet La Source will be on show at the Centre National du Costume et de Scène in Moulins-sur-Allier.
Medals of Marriage and PACS (civil union)
La Monnaie de Paris
La Monnaie Paris boutique
“Art and Money”
Centre National du Costume et de Scène (Moulins-sur-Allier)
Editor’s note: Think ahead and do some easy holiday shopping for Paris Fashion. A membership to the GG2P Travel Club makes the perfect gift for someone who loves Paris. Perhaps treat yourself to one, and give one to a friend!