Marie Beltrami is known to all. Yes, she is. She really is. And yet, for most of you, you don’t know who she is. Nevertheless, you’ve seen her work many times on television and admired her sense of style without imagining who was behind it… If I tell you about the Chanel “Égoïste” advert or Dim’s “Diam’s” tights, do you see what I mean? No ? Then make yourself comfortable and read…
Marie Beltrami in her garden. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
At the end of July, in the heat of the Parisian summer, I had an appointment with the most famous pink hair in Paris. I had quickly met her at a party at Artcurial and I vowed to take a long time to interview her. So we met in her garden, in the heart of Paris, to discuss her life, her memories – numerous and touching – but above all to evoke the line of jewellery and the pieces she has been making since the 1970s. Here’s a look at one of the most beautiful interviews I’ve ever had the privilege of conducting. I hope that her universe, poetic, disruptive, and sometimes even erotic, will seduce you…
Reflections with this gold and blue topaz ring (treated). Photo : ©MarieChabrol
To define Marie Beltrami, one must first say that she is a complete artist. Nothing scares her and nothing stops her. Furniture, clothes, accessories, jewellery, paintings… She takes the material, makes it her own and transforms it. In her hands, her fertile imagination gives life to a world and a colourful universe, often joyful, but never boring. But before that, there was another life.
Before she became a star designer, she began by studying nursing. It was the 1960s, and more precisely around 1968. While the Velpeau strip no longer held any secrets for her, she decided that she needed to learn English. She left for the USA and more particularly New York. Finally, she settled in Las Vegas, then frequented the artistic circles. For someone who has always “tinkered” and used her hands to serve her imagination, nothing is more natural and enriching. And English became secondary! She then decided to start making her own clothes and on her return to France, bought a sewing machine.
Mice, mice… Yellow gold and black rhodium-plated gold rings, diamonds, rubies and garnets. Mouses, mouses… Photo: ©MarieChabrol
It was a weekend on the island of Noirmoutier that changed her life. While Robert Bresson was shooting “Lancelot du Lac” there in 1973, she became friends with Nikki de Saint-Phalle’s daughter – Laura Duke Condominas – who played Guinevere in the film. The story begins there. Then in 1975, she moved to Paris where she joined the whole troupe around Nikki. This is how she became friends with her and especially with Princess Marina of Greece. The one who makes her own clothes starts to make clothes for others… Because around Nikki a myriad of artists is grafted. She began to work on Nikki’s films, making costumes for her, and then imagining those for the avant-garde theatre of Paloma Picasso and Gérard Darouste. Among her masterpieces, the costumes for David Hamilton’s film “Bylitis” released in 1977. In the wake of this, she made jewellery in the shape of ice cubes and necklaces with pins… In 1981, she launched her first collection with, among her iconic pieces, dresses whose fabric was nothing other than the print of love letters from her suitors! That same year, the major political event was the election of François Mitterrand. His re-election in 1988 gave Marie the opportunity to create a political shirt: the “Chemise Tonton” which made the headlines in the media at the time.
Earrings made from diverted wood drills. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
At that time, she even acted in several films. But above all, she assiduously frequented La Coupole. The unmissable restaurant in Montparnasse is the favourite place of the entire artistic intelligentsia of Paris. This is how she met Jean-Paul Goude, who was looking for an assistant and a stylist. This was the beginning of a story that would last almost twenty years. Twenty years of commercials and film shoots, to which Marie’s unbridled imagination lends itself perfectly. She was the designer of the “Égoïste” spot that you all know for its haunting alexandrines and Prokofiev music. Vanessa Paradis as a bird in a cage, that’s her again and the sexy toreador of Dim tights, still Marie… Goude’s chief stylist, she imagines how to stage his ideas, makes suggestions for materials and finds solutions so that everything works on stage… After years of working together, their creative duo came to an end and Marie opened a new page in her creative history. We are in 2005/2006, her pink hair is still as dapper and glamorous as ever and it is time for her to express herself in her own name. Here she is, back to freelance styling but also to very different artistic projects, in her image. She then collaborated with names such as Philippe Stark, Dominique Issermann, Etienne Chatilliez and for the newspaper l’Egoïste with Bettina Rheims and Richard Avedon.
Text written by Marie Beltrami during a writing workshop on jewellery. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
“I am addicted to singularity, because singularity is freedom…”
Three mice… Project for a gold and diamond ring that should soon see the light of day. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
In 2010, she signed an exhibition of photos “The woman who saves the world” – created in collaboration with her son Pascal from 2006 – which she displayed at the Antonine Catzeflis Gallery. At the same time, she proposed her “Cintrées” – sculptures inspired by her fashion universe – and exhibited them at the Arts Décoratifs. In 2013, she initiated the project “Sa vie de timbrée”, a series of 350 letters she sent to personalities she admires, all of whom are no longer with us. The answers, sometimes touching, sometimes purely administrative, were the subject of an exhibition at the Espace Louis Vuitton in Saint-Germain-des-Près. Then came Shanghai and in 2015, his collection of erotic furniture directly inspired by his own drawings. It was the Pierre Alain Challier Gallery that exhibited it.
Marie wearing one of her earrings designed in the 80s. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
From 2012/2013, she began to imagine a series of jewels featuring mice and inspired by the cat of her friend Alexis Mabille. Mice, sometimes mischievous, sometimes naughty and sometimes even slightly punk. But Marie also hijacks wood drills to make incredible earrings, imagines sorts of metal pieces to cover the ears, adds rings, is almost inspired by the erotic-SM universe to give a sexy touch to jewellery that no one else could have imagined. Graphic, audacious, astonishing, words are lacking to characterise Marie precisely and so much the better! Today, she also adds writing to her bow and has just finished a first manuscript, surreal, in her image, which I took a particular pleasure in reading. I hope it will be published soon and that you will be able to discover it in your turn!
The lobster brooch in gold and garnets. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
I remember Marie’s elegance, her culture, her ideas by the thousands, her willingness to divert the smallest object she falls in love with. Her jewellery mixes gold, silver, diamonds, gilded metal, second hand elements… etc. If you are seduced by imposing, graphic jewellery, run to discover her work but above all, don’t forget to meet Marie because you won’t regret it!
See you soon!