René Jules Lalique was a French glass designer known for his creations of perfume bottles, vases, jewellery, chandeliers, clocks and automobile hood ornaments. He was born in the French village of Ay on 6 April 1860 and died on 5 May 1945. He started a glassware firm, named after himself, which still remains successful.

Lalique's early life was spent learning the methods of design and art he would use in his later life. At the age of two, his family moved to a suburb of Paris, but travelled to Ay for summer holidays. These trips influenced Lalique's later naturalistic glasswork. In 1872, when he was twelve, he entered the Collège Turgot where he started drawing and sketching. With the death of his father two years later, Lalique began working as an apprentice to goldsmith Louis Aucoc in Paris and attended evening classes at the École des arts décoratifs. He worked there from 1874-1876 and subsequently spent two years at the Crystal Palace School of Art, Sydenham, London, where he improved his graphic design skills and further developed his naturalistic approach to art.

When he returned from England he worked as a freelance artist designing pieces of jewellery for French jewellers, Cartier, [Boucheron] and others. In 1885, he opened his own business and designed and made his own jewellery and other glass pieces. By 1890, Lalique was recognized as one of France's foremost Art Nouveau jewellery designer, creating innovative pieces for Samuel Bing's new Paris shop, Maison de l'Art Nouveau. He went on to be one of the most famous in his field, his name synonymous with creativity, beauty and quality.

In the 1920s, he became noted for his work in the Art Deco style. He was responsible for the walls of lighted glass and elegant coloured glass columns which filled the dining room and "grand salon" of the SS Normandie and the interior fittings, cross, screens, reredos and font of St. Matthew's Church at Millbrook in Jersey (Lalique's Glass Church). His earlier experiences in Ay were his defining influence in his later work. As a result, many of his jewellery pieces and vases showcase plants, flowers and flowing lines.

On May 5, 1945 René Lalique was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.

René’s son Marc (b. 1900) took over the running of the Lalique business. Marc had been working for the business since 1922. He was a skilled technician and also an accomplished designer. Marc was also the key mover behind the change of their glass recipe to have a higher lead content, making it a much clearer and brighter crystal glass.

Marc had an elder sister Suzanne Lalique-Haviland. She was born out of wedlock in 1892, but was raised under the watchful eye of her father and her maternal grandfather, the sculptor Auguste Ledru. It is known that she contributed to the design of many of the pieces attributed to René Lalique, but we have not yet seen anything directly attributed to her name. Susanne also worked on designs for Limoges porcelain, indulged her love of painting, and later produced stage set and costume designs. It was in this profession she made her mark, working on over 50 productions between c1930 and c1970. Susanne died in Avignon in 1989.

On Marc’s death in 1977 the business passed on to Marie-Claude Lalique, Marc’s daughter/René’s granddaughter. Born in 1936 she had inherited the family’s design genes, and had been working as a designer for the company since c1960. With no children to inherit the business, Marie-Claude sold the business in 1994 to the Pochet Group, thus marking the end of over 100 years of family ownership. But she kept an eye on the business and still produced some classic designs for them. Marie Claude-Lalique died on April 14, 2003 in Fort Myers, Florida. In 2008 the company was acquired by the Swiss group “Arts et Fragrance”.

The brand “Lalique” continues, and many of the designs of René, Marc and Marie-Claude are still in production today … and it is still based in Wingen-sur-Moder in the northern Vosages region, where René built his works in 1921.