During the Paris Haute Couture week I visited Chanel’s Haute Joaillerie presentation.
The French expression haute couture means “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” or “high fashion” and it is an exclusive segment of fashion. The pieces are made by hand from start to finish, using high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric. Everything is created with extreme attention to detail and designs are many times astoundingly creative. This is a completely different level of art, which requires the best of the best in design, sewing, embroidering and all other crafts.
Haute couture was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century in Paris under the patronage and cultivation of the House of Worth. Charles Frederick Worth was an English fashion designer, who is considered the father of haute couture. Today, the term is legally protected and has strict set of official criteria, defined in 1945 and approved by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
There are only fourteen officially designated couture ateliers, which include Giambattista Valli, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Givenchy. Beyond them, there are guest members each season (membres invités), who can use only the term “couture”. The organization also includes grand couturiers from all around the world, as “membres correspondants”.
A special area of the annual Couture Week is haute joaillerie. A few selected jewellery houses are accepted by the Fédération Française de la Couture as “Jeweller” members.
Current members are Boucheron, Bulgari, Chanel, Chaumet, De Beers, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Mellerio dits Meller and from this year on, Chopard.
Chanel is among the very few exceptional houses, who simultaneously present both haute couture and haute joaillerie novelties. Merging the two neighbouring artistic worlds comes naturally to them: earlier this year at Baselworld we witnessed the gorgeous timepieces by Chanel decorated with emblematic embroidery.
Coco Chanel had an amazingly diverse and exciting life, with many stories, and much gossip and speculation. One thing seems to be quite sure: she strongly believed in luck and surrounded herself with her favourite charms and objects. Many of her creations, perfume, and constellation jewellery was inspired by her lucky number, five or they bear some kind of reference to this number. In her apartment, her custom-made furniture (mostly made to order) had special motifs, such as the ornate Chinese screens and wall panels featuring coromandel birds and camellia flowers. Decoration included little lucky sculptures, like a frog with its mouth open, pairs of Japanese deer, lions (representing her zodiac sign) and wheat motifs (a sign of prosperity).
Les Talismans de Chanel high jewellery collection
Chanel creates two high jewellery collections each year (in addition to the bi-annual Paris Biennale show pieces) under the direction of Benjamin Comar, International Jewellery Director. This year, following Coco’s idea about lucky charms, the Maison turned some of her symbols and talismans into haute joaillerie pieces.
Les Talismans de Chanel collection was presented at Descartes University, Ecole de Medecine in Paris. Rooms behind the huge mirrored doors were decorated with digital projections and peculiar lights. Each room had a different setting: a balcony opening onto the vibe of a cosmopolitan city, a white and shiny mirror-room, or a dark display with strong spotlights. The pieces of jewellery were the starring in the scenes.
The collection consists of 50 pieces; cuffs, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, earrings and rings, divided into 11 themes around three main designs. Similar to the haute couture pieces, Chanel pays great attention to details and creation begins with design, rather than building pieces around procured stones.
Quatrefoil (meaning “four leaves”, was originally also used in art, architecture, and traditional Christian symbolism) is a central motif in the collection, interpreted with diamonds, Japanese-cultured pearls, sapphires, multi-coloured lacquer and enamel.
The Charismatique pieces are decorated with sugarloaf-cut blue tanzanites and violet sapphires. The Hypnotique necklace features a 10.5 ct brilliant-cut, blue-violet tanzanite, a one-carat brilliant-cut diamond and 468 brilliant-cut diamonds combined with multi-coloured lacquer. The Fascinante jewels are white gold with diamonds and night blue enamel.
The Magnétique cuff and brooch are yellow gold pieces, set with an oval-cut diamond, brilliant cut diamonds and cabochon-cut crystals. The Mystérieuse combine yellow gold with diamonds, cultured pearls, rock crystal cabochons and black lacquer. Particulière is a high jewellery watch in white gold set with brilliant cut diamonds.
The Attirante brooch has more Byzantine design; set with a five-carat brilliant-cut red spinel, four pear-cut orange topazes, four sugarloaf-cut Sri Lankan yellow sapphires and brilliant-cut diamonds.
Photo credits: Chanel.
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