Chanel Pays Homage To Russian Splendour In New Jewellery Collection
Russia became a part of Gabrielle Chanel's life from 1910, and in 1920 its influence became even more significant in her life. The designer and couturier began a short-lived but passionate affair with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, who was at the time exiled in France. This experience marked the entry of new cultural and artistic influences for Gabrielle Chanel, echoed today in this new jewellery collection touching on her dreams and memories.
Memories, because Chanel met many Russian artists who introduced her to the splendours of Imperial Russia. Dreams, because the designer never actually set foot in the country. Ernest Beaux, perfumer to the court of the Tsars, became the creator of N°5. Misia Sert, one of Gabrielle's closest friends, as well as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Léonide Massine, Serge Lifar, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, nourished her fascination with Russia, influencing her fashion designs.
This heritage is today celebrated through this new collection of 63 fine jewellery pieces touching on both sobriety and exuberance. It includes necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, brooches, watches, and hair ornaments. Most are set with diamonds and cultured pearls, and some, like the Folklore ensemble, with blue and pink sapphires, mandarine and tsavorite garnets, reference the festive colours of the Ballets Russes, for which Chanel designed costumes.
Eagles, peasant shirts, and Russian motifs
The collection references many Russian inspirations which enriched Gabrielle Chanel's life and creativity. The double-headed eagle, a symbol of Imperial Russia, tops the sculpted frame of a mirror in the original Chanel boutique on the rue Cambon. It now plays a special role, appearing with octagons or camellias on a ring or necklace.
Russian folkwear's embroidered "rubakha" shirts influenced Gabrielle Chanel's fashion, as did Byzantine scarves and embroidery, and these are also now referenced in this special collection. The wheat stalk, a symbolic Russian theme, became one of Chanel's favourite motifs. It's a nod to Chanel's 1967 show in Moscow, which took place without her. Afterward, her models brought her bouquets of wheat, now referenced by the yellow and white gold and diamonds in the "Blé Gabrielle" ("Gabrielle Wheat") pieces.