A princess out on a tryst–and other timeless designs | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

GROUNDBREAKING European dancer Fanny Eissler rendered in porcelain based on a prototype by artist Jean Auguste Barre, circa 1830s. Meissen prides itself in creating figurines with very distinct hand-painted facial features and clothing details. PHOTOS BY CATHY CAÑARES YAMSUAN

The customer is king” is not an adage taken lightly by Meissen, the German luxury brand founded more than 300 years ago by Emperor Augustus the Strong, ruler of Poland and Saxony, in 1710.


All of Meissen’s current designs, from its porcelain, fine jewelry, watches to fashion accessories, are based on those approved by Augustus during his heyday.


Ingo Bade, chair of the Hong Kong-based Meissen Asia Pacific board of directors, likened Augustus’ hands-on style in the 1700s to that of a present-day chief executive officer who has to approve all designs and innovative concepts fresh from the drawing board.


That means a customer who picks a Meissen product gets one not only with a bit of European history but also with the royal stamp of Augustus’ personal style.


Meissen’s elegant jewelry, plush porcelain, luxury timepieces and hand-painted silk scarves are available exclusively at Rustan’s Makati. Meissen is available only in 30 countries worldwide.


Inquirer Lifestyle was offered a glimpse of how Meissen makes its hand-painted porcelain by two expert artisans flown in from Europe.


Assembler-modeler Uta Apel put together a shepherdess figurine from separate anatomical pieces, each fashioned from hand-rolled clay.


Bade said the clay shepherdess is not just any random character, but was a real-life princess who wore disguises during trysts with a commoner lover.


An actual person


“So you can see her facial expression is real because she was based on an actual person who lived in Europe centuries ago,” the Meissen executive noted.


Porcelain pieces depicting everyday life in Poland and Saxony during Augustus’ era are actually inadvertent documentations of real people or subjects then. The clothes were what the subjects donned during that period.


Home accessories and architecture interpreted in porcelain are also genuine recordings of what was in vogue then.


But Meissen’s pride, Bade pointed out, is the exquisite and painstaking manner by which its artisans interpret Augustus’ designs.


Assembler Apel’s shepherdess, for example, has a very distinct naughty facial expression, and the creases of her dress are very apparent.


Master painter Ute Speda, in another demonstration, showed how Meissen artisans used powerful lenses to hand-paint boules, or porcelain balls no bigger than a child’s toy marble, to depict very detailed paintings of dragons, skylines and flowers.


Meissen’s assemblers and painters spend a decade and a half trying to master these skills. This is important, especially since Augustus liked repeating specific motifs, such as his favorite snow blossoms, in porcelain, watches, silk scarves and jewelry.


Augustus’ love of the luxurious and the exotic also explains Meissen’s preference for Orientalia as reflected in the dragons and other non-European animals like tigers among its designs.


Bade said Meissen’s brand logo—the two crossed swords as seen in the king’s armor—is “among the oldest trademarks in the world and is the first royal luxury brand from Europe. It comes from the past and we have (Augustus’) royal DNA in our blood. We will never lose that, so it is essential that we keep his tradition alive.


“Meissen has been handed down from king to king to king.  It has survived 11 wars without taking sides,” Bade added.


“Meissen pieces become iconic heirlooms passed on from generation to generation. They are tactile and very refined investments.”

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