Chanel sparks a romance on the high seas with its latest high jewellery collection.
When someone who routinely has rarefied experiences is jazzed about an evening you’ve both just shared, you know it was special. It’s the day after the launch of Chanel’s latest high jewellery collection, Flying Cloud, and Frédéric Grangié, the president of watches and fine jewellery, is both elated and relieved. “The dinner that we had here last night at La Pausa may never happen again,” says Grangié as we enjoy a cool drink on the grounds of Coco Chanel’s recently restored home in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, an area in the French Riviera near Monaco. “Last night was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 108 people.”
It’s not that people will never tour Chanel’s home again, but Grangié notes that it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever dine alfresco under a custom-built canopy inspired by the sails of the Flying Cloud, which was the yacht owned by Chanel’s lover, the second Duke of Westminster, and the inspiration for the collection. The evening was indeed unforgettably exquisite. It began with a seaside drive through Monaco to reach La Pausa, the hillside villa that Chanel built in 1929. At the gates to the single-lane driveway, we were met by two serious-looking men wearing earpieces. They checked our credentials and our trunk before we were granted entrance. When we walked into the foyer of this monastic and minimal home, I was immediately drawn to the stone staircase, which was inspired by the Aubazine abbey where Chanel spent much of her childhood. A silhouette of Chanel was projected onto the wall, echoing the famous portraits of her on the steps.
After the requisite selfie moment, I made my way into the adjacent rooms, where the collection was on display. Each room was decorated with sails and ringed with security men in stylish black suits. I kept thinking that it was the perfect scene for a European movie about a jewellery heist starring Jason Statham.
The next day, Grangié tells me that the biggest challenge was arranging security for the multimillion-euro collection. “When we first started talking about this one year ago, most people said it was going to be impossible and the insurance company was really upset with this idea—and when I say really upset, I mean really upset,” he says with a laugh.
But Grangié isn’t one to be denied. It was kismet that the collection would be shown at La Pausa. The company had purchased the property two years ago, at the same time the theme for the collection had been determined. “The idea originated from a picture of Gabrielle Chanel on the Flying
Cloud,” he recalls. “It inspired our design studio because we had never explored this period in her life. It became obvious that we should bring the collection to the South of France to a place where Gabrielle was probably the happiest.”
The nautical theme in the Flying Cloud collection is reflected in the rings, bracelets and necklaces that have lifebuoys in white gold, lapis lazuli, diamonds and cultured pearls. There are sailorinspired sapphire stripes on brooches and cuffs, as well as sailor tattoo rings. My favourite is the Sparkling Lines white gold necklace made from 49 round-cut diamonds and 2,823 brilliantcut diamonds. “Oh, that one is gone,” Grangié tells me, adding that most of the collection has already been sold mainly to women who purchased the pieces for themselves. These stylish, well-heeled women would agree with Chanel’s observation that “luxury is a necessity that starts where necessity stops.”
CLOCKWISE, FROM BOTTOM LEFT: THE FLYING CLOUD; PRECIOUS FLOAT EARRINGS WITH DIAMONDS, LAPIS LAZULIS AND PEARLS; SAILOR TATTOO DIAMOND AND SAPPHIRE RING; SAILOR TATTOO BRACELET WITH DIAMONDS; AND SPARKLING LINES NECKLACE WITH DIAMONDS.