Power, passion, and panache take centre stage in Chanel Fine Jewellery’s stunning new collection
AMONG THE FOUNDERS OF LEGENDARY FASHION BRANDS, the life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s is certainly among the most colourful and dramatic, making it customary for the Maison to relate almost every jewellery or watch collection to some aspect of it.
Timeless brooch in 18K yellow gold set with diamonds and yellow sapphires
The latest high jewellery collection from Chanel, launched in January at the 2018 Paris Fashion Week, is devoted to the astrological sign the designer was born under — Leo the Lion. Born on August 19th, Chanel embraced the symbol, enraptured by its regal beauty and believing that the predatory cats were her lucky charm. She collected it and talked about it, and evoked it wherever she could, from suit buttons and the clasps of handbags, to her famous apartment at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris where leonine objects in rock, crystal, marble, wood, and bronze stalked everywhere. It was this resplendent menagerie that inspired the Chanel jewellers in Place Vendome to create this new collection and name it L’Esprit du Lion, meaning ‘The Lion Spirit’.
The lion symbol first made its appearance in Chanel high jewellery in 2012; and in 2013, the astrological sign was celebrated in the Sous le Signe du Lion collection, which at the same time acknowledged the spiritual and sentimental place that Venice — whose heraldic symbol is the Lion of St Mark — held in the life of Coco Chanel. And while this collection purportedly focused on the spiritual side of the Leo sign, this year’s range apparently takes its cues from the ‘personality’ of the lion — its strength and power.
Gabrielle Chanel in her apartment at 31 rue Cambon in Paris in 1957, Photo by Mike de Dulmen
The lions, which populated Chanel’s psyche and private living spaces, inform every one of the 53 pieces in this season’s collection. The jewels are bold with an undeniable Eighties vibe and feature imperial topazes, beryls, sapphires, rubies and emeralds, with lashings of diamonds.
Passionate transformable necklace in 18K yellow gold set with an octagon-cut orange topaz, multicoloured sapphires, and diamonds
A bronze sculpture of a lion with its paw resting on a globe, which sits on the mantelpiece in the Rue Cambon apartment, is a key motif in the collection — now cast in yellow or white gold or rock crystal, the ball a discreet clock or a diamond sphere on brooches and bracelets. Elsewhere, a lion’s snout is cut from a golden 34.41ct heliodor beryl to cover the Eternelles watch face; while 32 stretched oval-cut heliodors, totalling 111.18 carats, along with 454 diamonds, adorn the Dazzling necklace, the most extravagant in the collection.
Another spectacular stone used in the collection is a bright orange octagonal topaz that recalls the shape of the Place Vendome and the perfume bottle stoppers of Chanel No.5. As the focal stone of the Passionate line, it features in a transformable necklace boasting a whopping 30ct topaz, a bracelet, and chandelier earrings.
Brilliant earrings in 18K yellow and white gold set with spessartite garnets, yellow sapphires, Japanese Cultured Pearls, brown diamonds, and diamonds
Besides the sinewy lion, an important key motif of this collection is its warm palette of yellow, oranges, and browns, and a chain composed of soft, large, organic and seemingly flat rings, prevalently in yellow gold and sometimes punctuated by diamonds. The frames of the jewels have been crafted in 18K white or yellow gold, or platinum, and pieces have been duplicated to produce a number of iterations. For instance, there are the Timeless brooches made of yellow gold, yellow sapphires, and diamonds, as well as a version in white gold and diamonds. The Protective collection, meanwhile, also includes pieces made using colourless diamonds, or a combination of colourless and tawny diamonds.
Dazzling necklace in 18K yellow gold set with oval-cut yellow beryls and brilliant-cut diamonds
Other standout pieces in the collection include the Legendary convertible necklace in 18K yellow gold and white gold set with over 1,200 diamonds plus a 30.19ct cushion-cut fancy intense yellow diamond; a ring from the Commanding line featuring a 5.28ct marquise-cut colourless diamond and 286 brilliant-cut diamonds; and the elegant Byzantine Brilliant ring containing spessartines, yellow sapphires, diamonds and Japanese pearl, comprising two parts joined by a chain.
In a season that has seen feminine empowerment very much in the media spotlight, this bold yet utterly elegant collection could not have presented itself at a more prescient time.