Chanel’s charms take on bedazzling new forms in its high-jewellery collection

Chanel’s latest offering, unveiled alongside the haute couture collection at Paris Fashion Week, was inspired by Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and all the objects she had that protected her and gave her the strength.

From the yellow citrine ring that she used to wear on the little finger of her left hand, to an icon gifted to her by Igor Stravinsky that she kept on her bedside table, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel placed great stock in talismans, symbols and lucky charms.

So, for Chanel’s latest high-­jewellery offering, which was unveiled alongside the autumn/winter 2015-16 haute couture collection last week, the hallowed fashion house paid tribute to the power of such charms.

Les Talismans de Chanel, as the collection is fittingly named, was presented at Ecole de Medecine in Paris. Hidden behind a barely perceptible mirrored door, the jewels were showcased in rooms decked in mirrors and stark white surfaces, with mesmerising digital displays of blue skies and blustering clouds in constant motion overhead. The effect was decidedly dreamlike and designed to showcase the jewels in all their glory.

Chanel’s fine jewellery team is known for taking a design-­centric approach to its creations, as opposed a stone-led approach, which means that the designs are drawn up first and then the appropriate stones are sourced, rather than the other way around, as is often the case. As a result, each piece can take up to three years to realise, and in some instances, can involve up to 2,000 hours of work.

The new collection consists of 11 sets made up of 50 pieces. Those expecting the standard Chanel “codes” – lions, camellia flowers and such – will be disappointed. If there is a leitmotif, it is the quatrefoil pattern, which is meant to exude “a strange alchemy”, but at its core, this is a collection characterised by complete creative freedom. From oversized hammered gold cuffs to Japanese cultured pearls, sapphires, brilliant diamonds and multicoloured lacquer and enamel pieces, Les Talismans offers both depth and breadth.

“There are two types of collections,” Benjamin Comar, Chanel’s international high jewellery director, tells me. “There are those that are based on one aesthetic, the more figurative collections, with the lions, for example, or the feather. Here, it is more spirit-orientated, inspired by Gabrielle Chanel and all the objects she had that protected her and gave her the strength to manage this company and be a strong woman in the 1920s. She was very superstitious and this is a collection about that. It’s not a direct link, but about things that give you the power, strength and energy to move on in today’s world.

“This is not the first time that we break from the codes, and I think we need to, in order to offer our customers new things. I think it’s important for us to bring something new every time we do a new collection. That’s the whole motivation for us.”

When asked to sum up the collection in one word, Comar opts for “strength”, and there is indeed a certain power to the pieces, which are unashamedly bold and often constructed around one striking centrepiece. “The design is very strong, with big medallions and big rings,” says Comar. “I think they are really quite unique.”

Published: July 11, 2015 04:00 AM


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