Dress like a Greek god­dess with Chanel adornery


mash­ing things up, com­bin­ing real with faux, and wear­ing pre­cious pieces with cos­tume jew­ellery. A provoca­tive plea­sure, it served as both a source of in­spi­ra­tion and an at­ti­tude lo­cated some­where be­tween sim­plic­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. The first pieces ap­peared in the 1920s. With the col­lab­o­ra­tion of var­i­ous jew­ellers and cos­tume jew­ellery mak­ers, the de­signer's cre­ations were nour­ished by an eclec­tic pro­fu­sion of in­spi­ra­tions and ar­ti­sanal and tra­di­tional know-how. Jew­ellery be­came the com­ple­ment to a sil­hou­ette, a sig­na­ture ac­ces­sory that to this day re­mains es­sen­tial to the Chanel al­lure.

Like the lady her­self, Chanel's mod­els wore cos­tume jew­ellery with op­u­lence, lay­er­ing neck­laces and sautoirs and mul­ti­ply­ing brooches and bracelets. Her ex­act­ing in­sis­tence on pure lines and so­bri­ety was en­hanced by a pro­fu­sion of stones, faux pearls and pre­cious met­als such as ver­meil, plated metal and bronze. Chanel made jew­ellery in­te­gral to a look: a cuff bracelet might re­place a shirt cuff, a jew­elled belt would ac­cen­tu­ate the waist, or a clev­erly placed brooch could al­ter the fall of a dress.

Baroque or Byzan­tine, cas­cades of pearls and art deco lines – Chanel called upon cos­tume jew­ellery maker Gripoix in the 1920s, and gold­smith François Hugo in the 1930s. Then, from 1954, she be­gan col­lab­o­rat­ing with gold­smith Robert Goossens, and de­vel­oped a se­ries of favourite sym­bols that be­came part of her in­fa­mous codes: crosses, lions, the stars, sun, comets, feath­ers. De­spite Chanel's death in 1971 and Goosens' in 2016, their col­lab­o­ra­tion le­gacy con­tin­ues, hav­ing joined the Métiers d'Art group in 2005.

For his 2017/18 cruise col­lec­tion, Karl Lager­feld ap­pro­pri­ated sym­bols from Greek mythol­ogy and Hellenic civil­i­sa­tion and mashed them up with Chanel mo­tifs. God­dess to­gas, shep­herd tu­nics are punc­tu­ated with cos­tume jew­ellery; much of the col­lec­tion is ren­dered in orange and ter­ra­cotta hues of an­cient Greece along with a vi­brant colour palatte con­sist­ing of royal blues, turquoise, green and pink. Bracelets are worn high on the arm, head­bands made of chains and leather flow­ers be­come head jew­ellery. Be­tween its spar­tan al­lure and de­ity-like el­e­gance, Chanel cos­tume jew­ellery of­fers an idea of fem­i­nin­ity that em­bod­ies strength and beauty through­out the ages.

From top: Golden metal and orange leather arm bracelet with faux pearls; golden metal neck­lace with black resin pearls

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