Chanel Coromandel High Jewellery Collection
Gabrielle Chanel lived in a lacquered box where sailing ships, palaces, flowers and birds, in flashes of gold and deep red, stood out against the darkness of the night.
This dream landscape held such charm for her that she wished to always keep it with her: it was that of the Coromandel screens, which she discovered in the 1910s, with her great love, Boy Capel. The screens followed her from her mansion on Avenue de New-York; to the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1923; to her suite at the Ritz Paris; and then her villa in Lausanne in 1968. She never became tired of searching for new ones, and, at one point, owned more than thirty. Some she gave away, but she always ensured to keep enough for herself, to, in her words, “upholster my home.” “I’m like a snail,” she confided to Claude Delay. “I carry my house with me- Two Chinese screens, books everywhere. I’ve never been able to live in an open house. The first thing I look for is screens.”
Trestles of privacy, the Coromandel screens provided a daily decor that she could easily move from one space to the next, cut, stick, detach, reduce, and transform according to her needs and desires. She would attach photographs and drawings by her artist friends, forming a background web for the imaginary theatre in which she liked to immerse herself. “When I look at this screen in the evening, for example,” she continued, “I see doors opening and knights setting off on horseback.”. The Coromandel lacquers evoke images of mythical China, Imperial Cathay and the Coromandel Coast of East India- from where these screens departed for Europe and to which gave them their name.
Still today, when entering Chanel’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon, it is impossible not to be caught up in the mirage of the décor. The 17th- and 18th- century screens mask doorways surround the fireplace and sofa, and, reflected in the mirrors and rock crystals appear to be multiplied to infinity: an imaginary labyrinth that stretches across the oceans and the centuries.
In 2018, Chanel Fine Jewellery presents, for the first time, a Fine Jewellery collection inspired by the poetic universe of Coromandel. The Coromandel collection is made up of fifty-nine pieces, with twenty-four that are entirely unique. The motifs dear to Gabrielle Chanel are reworked around three themes: floral, noticeably evoking her signature flower, the Camellia; animal, through the bestiary of Coromandel; and mineral, reflecting her love of crystal and gemstones.
The floral theme inspires a cuff that is entirely reversible, and reworks the geometric structure of the screens. The cuff includes a yellow diamond that pivots, so as to remain always visible on the wrist. The mineral theme is inscribed in the “Horizon Lointain” plastron necklace in yellow gold, dotted with clouds of mother-of-pearl and diamond (including one central six carat diamond) that evokes a Coromandel landscape.
At the heart of the animal theme, birds just about to take flight, just as they appear on the screens, ornament a diamond ring that sparkles with more than ten carats. Finally, the collection’s gems recall all the colours of the Coromandel lacquers: the greens of the Tsavorite garnet, emeralds and the more than thirty-seven-carat tourmaline on the “Mineral Vibration” ring; the red spinel on the “Floral Evocation” ring, and the ruby beads and deep, hypnotic black lacquer transposed onto the onyx.
These magical and virtuoso pieces offer, once again, an illustration of the incomparable savoir-faire of the Chanel Fine Jewellery workshop, and the tireless ingenuity of the Studio of Creation, inspired by the secret and precious universe of Gabrielle Chanel.