Lap of Luxury: Lalique

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Welcome to the Lap of Luxury. This week we visit French luxury brand Lalique. Perhaps best known for its crystal, Lalique began in the 1800s with Rene Lalique, a Parisian jeweler.

Lalique North America President and CEO Maz Zouhairi describes Rene Lalique as a true visionary and innovator in so many ways. He was known to be avant-garde, edgy, push boundaries, and wanted to create both shock and things that were never seen before.

Zouhairi says Rene Lalique started as a jeweler, revolutionizing the way pieces were made at the time. He was known to mix unique materials and precious stones. Mixing materials and finishes quickly became Rene Lalique's trademark.

Today, Lalique is characterized by a combination of satin finish and clear crystal that creates depth and movement when you look at it.

If you've never heard of the brand before, you've like seen its signature pieces like the Bacchantes vase. Designed by Rene Lalique in the 1920s, it remains Lalique's top seller today. 

In the early 1900s, Rene Lalique established himself as a revolutionary glassmaker. Partnering with famed perfumer Francois Coty, he created the first luxurious bottles to come with perfumes.

Rene Lalique's glasswork was so extraordinary, he was commissioned to work on the French presidential train, the Cote D'Azur Pullman Express, and the Normandie Luxury Liner.

Rene Lalique passed away in 1945, but his son, Marc, took over his father's legacy and continued to evolve the brand, changing Lalique from glass to crystal by adding lead, which gave the glass a sparkle.

Among Marc Lalique's most famous crystal designs are the Cactus Table, the Champs Elysees Bowl, the Langeais Collection of stemware.

Zouhairi says the Langeais Collection has a long iconic history and is Karl Lagerfeld's favorite glass from which to drink his Diet Cokes.

After Marc Lalique's passing, Marie Claude Lalique, Rene's granddaughter, took over the brand and expanded the perfume division. In the early 1990s she created the first Lalique fragrances, which are now a staple of the brand.

Lalique has evolved into a French luxury lifestyle brand with five divisions or pillars: decorative objects, interiors, jewelry, fragrance, and art.

The art division started in 2011 with Yves Klein's Victoire de Samothrace, created using the cire perdue or lost wax technique. With this technique, a mold is made of wax. That mold is then destroyed as the piece is created. To replicate the piece, the mold must be recreated, making each piece truly one of a kind. Each one-of-a-kind Victoire de Samothrace costs $190,000.

Today Lalique's art division includes a series of limited edition butterfly panels by Damien Hirst, a collection of vases inspired by the late Zaha Hadid's architecture, and Elton John's Music Is Love designs which raised over $400,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation at the Oscars this year.

Lalique's outstanding collaborations even extend into tableware. Wine connoisseur James Suckling helped create their stunning 100 Points Universal Glass, designed to enhance any type of wine.

Lalique has even designed limited edition crystal bottles for Patron and The Macallan, and entered the hospitality business with their own luxury hotel in France. Zouhairi says they took the original home of Rene Lalique and turned it into a hotel called Villa Lalique.

David Arnold, senior vice president of publishing at Robb Report, calls Villa Lalique a wonderful small hotel with a 2 Michelin star restaurant.  It won Best of the Best hotel in the Robb Report's June Best of the Best issue. Arnold says it's clear that Lalique is covering all the bases of a luxury lifestyle.

With rooms starting at 350 Euros, Villa Lalique is fully booked until next spring. If you're able to land a coveted stay there, you can also visit the Lalique Museum to further explore the brand's storied history and experience luxury the Lalique way.