Chanel pays homage to Russian splendor in new jewelry collection

Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel's jewelry design studio, presented "Le Paris Russe de Chanel" ("Chanel's Russian Paris") during Paris's haute couture week at the beginning of July.

The 63-piece collection was conceived in honor of the numerous Russian influences which enriched Gabrielle Chanel's life, creativity, and imagination in the early 20th century.
The collection references many Russian inspirations which enriched Gabrielle Chanel's life and creativity - Chanel

Russia became a part of Gabrielle Chanel's life from 1910, and in 1920 its influence became even more significant in her life. The designer and couturier began a short-lived but passionate affair with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, who was at the time exiled in France. This experience marked the entry of new cultural and artistic influences for Gabrielle Chanel, echoed today in this new jewelry collection touching on her dreams and memories.

Memories, because Chanel met many Russian artists who introduced her to the splendors of Imperial Russia. Dreams, because the designer never actually set foot in the country. Ernest Beaux, perfumer to the court of the Tsars, became the creator of N°5. Misia Sert, one of Gabrielle's closest friends, as well as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Léonide Massine, Serge Lifar, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, nourished her fascination with Russia, influencing her fashion designs.

This heritage is today celebrated through this new collection of 63 fine jewelry pieces touching on both sobriety and exuberance. It includes necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, brooches, watches, and hair ornaments. Most are set with diamonds and cultured pearls, and some, like the Folklore ensemble, with blue and pink sapphires, mandarine and tsavorite garnets, reference the festive colors of the Ballets Russes, for which Chanel designed costumes.

The collection references many Russian inspirations which enriched Gabrielle Chanel's life and creativity. The double-headed eagle, a symbol of Imperial Russia, tops the sculpted frame of a mirror in the original Chanel boutique on the rue Cambon. It now plays a special role, appearing with octagons or camellias on a ring or necklace.

Russian folkwear's embroidered "rubakha" shirts influenced Gabrielle Chanel's fashion, as did Byzantine scarves and embroidery, and these are also now referenced in this special collection. The wheat stalk, a symbolic Russian theme, became one of Chanel's favorite motifs.

It's a nod to Chanel's 1967 show in Moscow, which took place without her. Afterward, her models brought her bouquets of wheat, now referenced by the yellow and white gold and diamonds in the "Blé Gabrielle" ("Gabrielle Wheat") pieces.

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