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As Parisians of the late 19th century reveled in the heady optimism of economic prosperity and enjoyed the innovations spurred by the ongoing Industrial Revolution, Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress and muse of the time, became enamored by two trendsetters: Rene Lalique, then a jewelry maker, and Alphonse Mucha, the illustrator and designer.

It’s unsurprising that Bernhardt was drawn to them. Both were pioneers in their fields — Lalique’s elaborate statement pieces were crafted in unconventional materials, while Mucha’s bold posters showcased unusual dusty color palettes in a graphically flat style. Both also favored organic forms, were inspired by fluid curves and the exoticism of the East — and both produced art nouveau works that complemented Bernhardt’s own eccentric aesthetic.

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