Like archaeologists who plough into the earth to uncover historical artefacts, jewellers are known to delve deep into their archives before revealing a new collection of sparklers made fresh and relevant for contemporary times. The House of Chanel, however, has a somewhat different approach, faithfully turning instead to the storied life of its enigmatic founder for that magical spark of inspiration.
With instantly recognisable motifs, such as her favourite camellia and the lion (she was a Leo), and relatively more obscure ones like the humble wheat (her talisman against austerity) and the coromandel screens she so loved, the atelier retells Gabrielle Chanel’s scintillating tale with each new collection it launches. Glittering chapters of haute joaillerie have even been dedicated to her impassioned a airs. The nautical-themed Flying Cloud collection of 2017, for example, was named after the magnificent yacht that belonged to her former lover Hugh Grosvenor, who ignited her love for the sea. More recently, the Escale à Venise collection released at the start of the year pays tribute to the floating city in which she sought refuge after the death of Boy Capel, the great love of her life.
This March saw Chanel launching what was arguably its most ambitious haute joaillerie collection to date: The 123-piece Collection N°5, which celebrates the centennial anniversary of the world’s most famous perfume with a storied past that rivals that of Gabrielle herself. Yet, for all the commentary and reportage that surrounds Chanel N°5, the one thing that experts all agree on is the historical and financial significance it plays in Chanel lore.
“This is a collection that’s very important to me because I have dreamt about it for a long time,” says Patrice Leguéreau, Director of the Chanel Fine Jewellery Creation Studio. “When I joined Chanel in 2009, I discovered the richness of the Chanel patrimony and realised how precious and how very special the N°5 perfume is to Chanel. The idea of creating a high jewellery collection inspired by a perfume came to me a long time ago, but I had to just wait for the right time to go in that direction because there were many things to do during the last decade. This year, with the 100th anniversary, was the right time.”
What were you most excited about going into this project and its perfumee inspirations?
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