A Brief History

There are various books published about René Lalique and different aspects of his life and work can be researched in libraries as well as on the web.  We have given below just brief notes, by way of some background information, about the creative life of a great artist.

Born in 1860 in Ay, France, René Lalique became apprentice to Louis Aucoc, a prominent jeweller and goldsmith in Paris at the age of 16.  In 1878 he moved to London for two years to continue his studies at Sydenham College. After he returned to Paris, Lalique worked as a jewellery illustrator and in 1885 took over an existing jewellery workshop and began to include translucent enamels, ivory and semi-precious stones in his creations. 

In 1890 Lalique married August Ledru and subsequently acquired the services of her sculptor father as well as his new brother-in-law.  He had a five-storey house built with front doors for which he designed glass panels featuring pine branches with cones.  He moved into it in 1902 and three years later opened his first retail shop in Paris.

The shop was located close to the perfumery of Francois Coty. To begin with, Coty asked him to design perfume labels and later perfume containers. Coty was passionate about bringing perfume to a far greater market than it had reached before and made the perfume business a huge commercial success.  In time Lalique designed bottles, pots and boxes for many more of the great French perfume houses.

René Lalique enjoyed great success at significant exhibitions that increased recognition of his talent. Queen Alexandra and Sarah Bernhardt were among his celebrity clients. Lalique was at the forefront of the 'celebrity designer label' as we know it today.

Lalique’s vehicle radiator ornaments - car mascots in current parlance - became and remain highly sought after. His famous designs include jewellery, fashion accessories, car mascots, bookends, seals, vases, inkwells, ashtrays, tableware, clocks and lights as well as architectural and promotional pieces.

After René Lalique’s death in 1945, his son Marc took over and introduced new techniques, including the use of crystal, into his own designs.  Marc was succeeded in 1977 by his daughter Marie-Claude. It was under her auspices in 1992 that the first Lalique brand perfume was launched.  René Lalique’s  son and grand-daughter contributed beautiful and successful designs to the family firm.

Because René Lalique combined his talent as an artist with innovation and a sound business sense we can continue to enjoy the vast variety of Lalique design.