At Chanel, revisiting the past is an ongoing practice. How Chanel recreated its first-ever high jewelrycollection90 years after it debuted.
Chanel is known for its strong, seemingly timeless design codes, such as tweed jackets and quilted purses, both of which are frequently reimagined for new generations of consumers.
But this year, the company turned its rearview mirror toward a less well-known piece of history: Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's first foray into Haute jewelry, which took place in 1932. Celestial pieces such as a collar necklace of shooting stars traversing the neck in a trail of diamonds, a diamondringencircled by a swirl of satellite stones, and a yellow-diamond sunburst brooch are just a few of the highlights of the collection.
These pieces all mimic Chanel's original assortment of jewels, which made their debut 90 years ago.
During the height of the Great Depression, the London Diamond Corporation approached the French fashion house with a request to design a collection of jewelry that would be sold under the brand name "Bijoux de Diamants."
I am the “Bijoux de Diamants” collection — CHANEL High Jewelry
It had the effect that was intended. "It is perhaps of interest to add that two days after the Chanel Paris diamond show opened, De Beers stock was reported to have jumped some twenty points on the London [Stock Exchange]. "
This was written by Janet Flanner, an American expatriate who was living in Paris at the time and contributing to The New Yorker.
As per Patrice Leguéreau, the director of Chanel's Fine Jewelry Creation Studio, "Before 1932 there was no collection in jewelry, only pieces created separately for special orders designed from a special stone, but never a full collection."
The sole known piece that is still in existence is a diamond star brooch that belongs to the Maison; however, there are no archival sketches that have survived. "We found a movie about 10 years ago where we can see all of the collection," says Leguéreau, who notes that the film, which is the only surviving visual evidence of the collection besides five photos in a press book, was the impetus for his idea to re-create the pieces.
She describes a necklace as "a superb comet whose nape-encircling tail is all that attaches to a lady’s throat," braceletsfashioned like "flexible rays," and a one-of-a-kind piece designed as a "splendid sun of yellow diamonds from a unique collection of matched stones unmatched in the world." similar to the brooch that was mentioned earlier.
This is proof that even Chanel's most mysterious pieces from its pioneering past can nonetheless illuminate the brand's present and future collections.