In conjunction with its latest haute couture show in January, Chanel launched its newest high jewellery collection, Coco Avant Chanel. While most international jewellery houses typically release just one high jewellery collection a year, Chanel defies convention by launching two, during the haute couture weeks in January and July.
Coco Avant Chanel follows the codes established by the founder of the maison, Gabrielle Chanel: the audacious and revolutionary designer who broke women free of their corsets and introduced them to the luxe comfort of trousers, tweed and jersey.
The collection takes the house back in time, when Gabrielle was better known as Coco, and when she would sew by day and ask by song at night to the cavalrymen, Qui a vu Coco au Trocadero? Back then, too, she marched to the beat of her own drum, favouring certain styles and motifs that would go on to influence her lifetime of work.
In Coco Avant Chanel, these themes are explored with the artistic brushstroke of precious stones, each of the 11 suites dedicated to the women who influenced Coco before 1920.
Here, we decode the collection’s inspirations and highlight our top pieces.
Coco started her design journey as a milliner, making hats for her clientele of young girls and subsequently, wealthy ladies. She eschewed the popular, opulent feathers of the time and opted instead for elegant ribbons that would rim the edge of her boater hats. Here, the motif makes it appearance within the collection, seen on the Marthe ring, where a precious ribbon in white gold is tied in a knot of diamonds and grey spinels, accented with a solitaire brilliant-cut sparkler weighing 1.5 carats.
A skilled seamstress, Coco was a genius with scissors; she utilised her talents to transform delicate lace into a powerful fashion statement, with motifs of camellias, birds and flowers appearing to be printed on the material. The white gold pieces from the Gabrielle Chanel suite repurpose the beloved camellia that Coco was so enamoured by. The recurring floral pattern appears to be laser-cut, with such precision and sharp angles that instantly imbue the piece with 21st-century modernity—a deceptive aesthetic, as each piece in the high jewellery collection has been meticulously hand-crafted. A 10-02 pear-cut diamond lies in the centre of the collier.
Coco’s upbringing in a convent orphanage inculcated a love for monochromatic tones and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a fascination for baroque jewels that featured on ecclesiastical habits and objects. This influence is apparent in the use of coloured gemstones, where a combination of sapphires, morganites, and spinels add drama to the bejewelled confections.