Fly­ing Cloud

Set sail with Chanel High Jew­ellery

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - LIFE - ALEESHA HAR­RIS Ahar­

In Ro­que­brune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera, nes­tled mid­way up a wind­ing road, sits a stun­ning home with a long his­tory.

Dubbed La Pausa, the spa­cious abode boasts a rus­tic charm, its fair share of ocean views and an abun­dant col­lec­tion of ma­ture olive trees. Es­sen­tially, it has just enough awe-in­spir­ing ex­tras to set it apart — even among the for­mi­da­ble col­lec­tion of man­sions that call this monied hill­side com­mu­nity in the south of France home.

But what re­ally makes it spe­cial, is its pre­vi­ous owner. Com­pleted in 1930, La Pausa was once the hol­i­day home of none other than Gabrielle Chanel.

She com­mis­sioned its creation, pre­sid­ing over the con­struc­tion and adding her own per­sonal de­sign ear­marks into its ev­ery nook. It then be­came her per­sonal place of es­cape — and party venue, of course.

La Pausa left Chanel’s pos­ses­sion in the early 1950s, but it didn’t take long after its re-ac­qui­si­tion by the French fash­ion mai­son in 2015, for spec­u­la­tion to run ram­pant about when de­signer Karl Lager­feld would use it for one of his ex­trav­a­gant fash­ion pre­sen­ta­tions.

But it was the com­pany’s high jew­ellery di­vi­sion that got to it first. In late June, Chanel pre­sented its lat­est col­lec­tion of ex­quis­ite and ex­tra­or­di­nary pieces at Chanel’s former home.

Ti­tled Fly­ing Cloud — after the four-masted yacht owned by Chanel’s com­pan­ion, the sec­ond Duke of West­min­ster, Hugh Grosvenor — the col­lec­tion fea­tures neck­laces, cuffs, rings and more, crafted from ma­te­ri­als such as white gold, pearls, di­a­monds and sap­phires.

“The col­lec­tion started a bit more than two years ago. And what’s in­ter­est­ing about this col­lec­tion is it’s a lot of lucky co­in­ci­dences,” Frédéric Grangié, pres­i­dent of Chanel watches and fine jew­ellery, says.

The tim­ing of the col­lec­tion’s de­sign be­gin­nings co­in­cided per­fectly with the pur­chase of La Pausa by Chanel. But one did not ini­tially in­flu­ence the other. Like most Chanel cre­ations, the Fly­ing Cloud re­lease was in­spired more by the brand’s name­sake than any whim, gem­stone or de­sign idea.

“The col­lec­tion orig­i­nated from a pic­ture of Gabrielle Chanel stand­ing on the Fly­ing Cloud, with the Duke of West­min­ster,” Grangié ex­plains. “It in­spired our de­signer and our stu­dio be­cause we had never ex­plored that theme.”

One of two full col­lec­tions re­leased by the house each year, the June/July col­lec­tion is one Grangié says is al­ways closely tied to Chanel.

“It is al­ways push­ing for­ward, in­tro­duc­ing new ideas, new themes — al­ways re­lated to her,” he ex­plains. “As they started work­ing on this col­lec­tion, and thanks to the pur­chase of this prop­erty, it be­came ob­vi­ous that we should bring it to the south of France, of course, be­cause the Fly­ing Cloud used to be here.”

“So, this is, in a sense, Gabrielle Chanel in her purest form here. And it’s all re­lated to the Fly­ing Cloud.”

Grangié de­scribed a panel hid­den in La Pausa with but­tons la­belled with the words “Made­moi­selle” and “Mon­sieur.” It was from here that Chanel would send tele­grams to Grosvenor aboard the yacht.

“When the Duke of West­min­ster was com­ing, they would ac­tu­ally ex­change tele­grams — ba­si­cally say­ing, ‘I’m on my way,’ ” he says. “It was a lot chicer than text mes­sages.”

The Fly­ing Cloud col­lec­tion, which con­tains 62 pieces — 63 if you count a piece that was sold pri­vately be­fore the Fly­ing Cloud col­lec­tion was re­leased — is split into two main themes: one that high­lights the things needed at sea such as ropes and an­chors, and an­other that fo­cuses on the more whim­si­cal el­e­ments, such as sailors’ uni­form but­tons and even tat­toos.

“What we do is all about creation, it’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent,” Grangié says. “Who would ex­pect a col­lec­tion with ropes, an­chors, sailor’s but­tons?

“It clearly didn’t come from the mar­ket­ing com­mit­tee,” he adds with a laugh.

And it’s that level of creativ­ity that Grangié says keeps Chanel High Jew­ellery cus­tomers — who are in­creas­ingly made up of young women buy­ing the ex­cep­tional pieces for them­selves — com­ing back for more.

“When peo­ple think of high jew­ellery, they think about high jew­ellery in a very tra­di­tional sense. It’s all about evenings and long dresses and tiaras. But that’s not the case here,” he says. “The col­lec­tions are meant to be — I’m not go­ing to say that they are meant to be worn on a daily ba­sis — but, in a way they could be. When we first had previews of this col­lec­tion, what was re­ally amaz­ing was the col­lec­tion sold out al­most in­stantly. The ex­cep­tional pieces were all gone.

“We had in­stant re­ac­tions to the col­lec­tion. It was a happy sur­prise, of course.”


The “Turquoise Wa­ters” neck­lace from the “Fly­ing Cloud” High Jew­elry col­lec­tion.


Gabrielle Chanel on the desk of the Fly­ing Cloud circa 1926.


An ar­ti­san works on gem-set­ting of the “Turquoise Wa­ters” neck­lace on a bust in the CHANEL work­shop at 18 Place Vendá·me in Paris.

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