A tribute to the different Russian inspirations that nourished the creation and imagination of Gabrielle Chanel
Tuesday, 30 July 2019,
by VO+ Magazine
ble gabrielle earrings
Gabrielle Chanel never set foot in Russia, however, it remained for her an imagined country that she kept firmly in her dreams. She was so enchanted by this distant empire that she chose to adorn her apartment at rue Cambon with a mirror featuring a sculpted frame depicting the two-headed eagle of imperial Russia. This emblem was also echoed in the title of her dear friend Jean Cocteau’s play The Eagle with Two Heads, which recounted the tale of a romantic drama set in an imagined Russian land. It is within this dream that Le Paris Russe De Chanel High Jewelry collection finds its roots. The two-headed eagle features prominently in the collection, sometimes reduced to a symbol or outline, and is combined with the octagon (reminiscent of the mirror’s shape) or the camélia, creating the setting of a ring, or radiating from the center of a necklace belonging to an imaginary “Order.” It is paired with multiple variations of select motifs from Russian decorative arts: embroidery in the bright colors of roubachkas, cuts inspired by kokoshnik (headdresses made of velvet and adorned with pearls and trimming), scarves and fabric printed with traditional folklore motifs, and so forth.These motifs have inspired the ogive cut of necklaces or head ornaments, as well as delicate earring motifs, large pearl sautoir necklaces and draped necklaces of yellow sapphires, garnets, emeralds and diamonds. In contrast to the luminous clarity of these precious gems, the collection also features a line of sets with radiant chromatic effects, showcasing the richness of traditional craftsmanship as well as the colorful exuberance of the Ballets Russes, with whom Chanel shared a sense of adventure, a passion for innovation, an exaltation of the human body, a feeling for friendship and a penchant for festivity. A celebration of the moment behind which lies an essential feeling of nostalgia.
ble maria brooch
aigle cambon cuff
motif rousse necklace
Serving as a common thread throughout the designer’s life, her Russian passion experienced a sort of epilogue in 1967 when the runway show for her collection was held on Moscow’s Red Square. Gabrielle Chanel did not attend the show, but was represented by her models, who brought her back sheaths of wheat to thank her. One of Chanel’s favorite motifs, the ear of wheat, which is associated with gold and the sun and is a symbol of luck, is showcased in this collection as another theme symbolic of Russia. She surrounded herself with the delicate sheaths she received from her models, placing them next to the gilded bronze one designed by Robert Goossens for her apartment. They were to her fragments of this distant country, whose echoes she never stopped collecting, and which she opted to preserve as a dream world.