Known for her larger-than-life persona, Misia Sert encouraged Coco Chanel to realise her meteoric potential and continues to inspire Chanel Fragrances today. By Li Ying Lim.
isia Sert. The artist Jean Cocteau saw her as an eye, immortalised in that caricature he drew off hand with a prominent dot for the eye. He once said of the Russian-born pianist of Polish descent: “And there we are face to face with one of those women to whom Stendhal granted genius.” For Gabrielle Chanel, Sert’s confidante, partner-in-crime, ingénue, and above all, soul mate, she described her thus: “In a woman n there is everything, and in Misia there is every sort of woman.” n Chanel there was also pure energy and charisma. Sert saw talent and verve in the young brunette before she exploded onto the fashion scene. She was known for such a knack, identifying gifted poets and elite artists long before they became legendary. It was she who suggested launching an “eau Chanel”. Two years before the creation of N˚5, she registered this very trademark on behalf of her best friend. he embraced Chanel as she did her café society friends: Pablo Picasso, Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, and Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev. Misia first found Chanel when she was heartbroken over the death of her lover Boy Capel; she brought her to Venice and opened her up to a world of Byzantine beauty, glorious museums, and silken decadence, of golden opulence and glittering extravagance worn on stage. had this vivid idea of actors or dancers going on stage, and the powder on their face, maybe lipstick and blush. It is the scent of actors.” says Chanel perfumer Olivier Polge. “My inspiration wasn’t Misia herself as a person, but her role as a turning point in the life of Gabrielle Chanel.” Misia was a visionary of the arts; hence the hints of boudoir powder in the scent. nd so Polge built upon that vision, to create Les Exclusifs de Chanel Le Misia. Violet takes centre stage, surrounded by rose, iris, and tonka bean. Calling to mind elegant pirouettes and velvet curtains, Le Misia is all seduction and mystery, designed for a woman of strength, grace, and joie de vivre. As novelist Paul Morand once wrote, “And then Misia is Misia, someone with no equal and, as Proust says, a monument … ” Available exclusively at Chanel Espace Parfum, Suria KLCC. Chanel Les Exclusifs de Chanel Le Misia EDT, RM562 (75ml) & RM950 (200ml)
Sert in front of a Veronese canvas in Venice, 1947
Coco Chanel and Misia Sert on the beach at the Lido, Venice, circa 1930
A Ballets Russes programme
Misia’s perf Le um er , O li v i e r P o l g e
Misia’s Eye, 1927, Jean Cocteau