Haute joaillerie, a.k.a. bling as only Chanel can do it.
Chanel’s latest fine-jewellery collection was inspired by Coco’s obsession with wheat.
The delicate scent of wheat will forever remind me of Paris. This summer, Place Vendôme was transformed into one of Coco Chanel’s favourite things: a wheat field. During Haute Couture Fashion Week, the designer’s namesake fashion house commissioned French artist Gad Weil to create an installation of a million painted wheat stalks arranged in lacquered boxes. It was all in celebration of the brand’s latest high-jewellery collection, Les Blés de Chanel.
Coco considered wheat, a universal symbol of prosperity and regeneration, her lucky charm. She had many wheat-inspired pieces in her apartment at 31, rue Cambon, including Salvador Dalí’s “Wheat Ear,” which was a gift from the artist. So it’s fitting that the 62-piece jewellery collection was inspired by the life cycle of the grain, from the young stalks of early spring to the fully formed golden sheaves of harvest season.
The day before the jewellery presentation, I attended the Chanel couture show, where Karl Lagerfeld recreated the real Chanel atelier, complete with the petites mains (the talented couturiers who physically create the collections) working quietly on garments as the models walked past them. After the show, I chatted with actress and model Hari Nef, a transgender woman who is a muse to many fashion designers. “The industry is hungry for new ways of seeing, new ways of being, but I think couture needs to adapt and move toward inclusivity,” she said. “If I saw anything today, it’s that everyone can relate to beauty.”
Before I left Paris, I walked through Place Vendôme one more time to run my fingers across the tops of the elegant wheat stalks. As they stirred in the breeze, I inhaled their mild perfume and looked across at the Ritz, where Coco used to stay. I imagined her looking out and smiling. n
The recreation of the real Chanel atelier