n July 5, at the Chanel Fall/Winter 2022/23 Haute Couture show at the Étrier de Paris equestrian centre, models in outfits inspired by some of Gabrielle Chanel’s own designs from the 1930s wore necklaces fashioned as diamond comets, blazing suns and moons bathed in a halo of pearls. Each a marvel to behold.
While it’s rare for high jewellery pieces to appear in a Haute Couture show, the soberly titled 1932 collection made a beautiful match for the silhouettes designed by Virginie Viard. Chanel’s artistic director, successor to Karl Lagerfeld, chose the necklaces to “complement the pleating”. Of the 44 outfits on the runway, 14 were accessorised with this celestial jewellery.
It’s rare for high jewellery pieces to appear in a Haute Couture show.
This high jewellery collection echoes the simply titled Bijoux de Diamants collection (see our article here), created by Gabrielle Chanel and presented in November 1932 in her private apartments at 29 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The jewellery establishment, from their boutiques on Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix, were outraged – Chanel was a couturière, how dare she make jewellery! – and tried to prevent her from selling her designs. Not that it mattered: in a shower of diamond-studded stars, Gabrielle showed that jewellery could be modern and irreverent, with necklaces worn without clasps or like a tiara.
In 2012 Chanel launched a collection inspired by this exhibition-sale. Ten years later it presents a new set of spectacular jewels: the 1932 collection composed of 81 pieces, 15 of which are transformable.
The first instalment was unveiled in February and the second during Haute Couture week in Paris, last July. “I wanted to come back to the essence of the 1932 collection and capture its message in three symbols: the comet, the moon and the sun. Each of these heavenly bodies shines with its own light,” says Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel’s fine jewellery creation studio. These are symbols in more ways than one, picked out in the mosaic floors of the abbey and orphanage in Aubazine, where Gabrielle Chanel grew up. The radiant star motif of the Comète Aubazine brooch in white diamonds is a direct reference.
- Chanel Fall/Winter 2022/23 Haute Couture show
“I wanted to capture the essence of the 1932 collection in three symbols: the comet, the moon and the sun.”
The collection presented at the Grand Palais Éphémère also featured recreations of certain of the original designs. The highlight – the Allure Céleste transformable necklace in white gold and diamonds with a 55.55-carat oval sapphire centre stone – sold within the first days.
- The Comète Aubazine brooch can be detached from its halo of diamonds.
The jewellery which Gabrielle Chanel showed in 1932 took visitors and customers by surprise with its modernity; the collection presented at the Grand Palais Éphémère was equally breathtaking. Each piece interprets one of the three themes chosen by Patrice Leguéreau and seemed to quiver with a life of its own: the Comète Volute necklace appeared to orbit an imaginary neck; the Lune Étincelante brooch seemed to cast a halo of light. “I’ve given figurative expression to the blaze of the comet, the halo that surrounds the moon, the shimmering rays of the sun,” says Leguéreau.
- The Comète Volute necklace with a 19.32-carat oval diamond
Several of the earrings are asymmetrically designed while rings extend over two or more fingers. In addition to the splendour of the stones, there is a fun element to the collection. You cannot help but wonder how a particular piece is constructed and into how many new pieces it can be deconstructed. In fact one of the most astonishing things about the collection is its sheer versatility.
You cannot help but wonder how a particular piece is constructed and into how many new pieces it can be deconstructed.
“The movement, freedom and flexibility that Mademoiselle Chanel imagined in 1932 is celebrated in the transformable nature of certain pieces. Parts of the necklaces can be detached and worn as brooches. Centre stones can adorn a ring or earrings,” notes the director of Chanel’s fine jewellery creation studio.
- Lune Talisman earrings with two vibrant blue tanzanites
While the original collection from 1932 was composed exclusively of white and yellow diamonds, today’s tribute incorporates coloured precious stones. “Alongside the diamonds, I introduced colour through exceptional gems that represent the heavens: blue diamond, yellow diamonds, blue and yellow sapphires, opals and rubies,” adds Patrice Leguéreau.
- The Soleil 19 août necklace is set with a 22.10-carat, cushion-cut, fancy vivid yellow diamond at the centre of a detachable motif that transforms into a ring.
The last word goes to Patrice Leguéreau: “Mademoiselle Chanel used to say that she wanted to cover women with constellations. I hope we have achieved this by scattering showers of diamonds across their décolleté, enveloping their wrists with scintillating comets and offering them heavenly bodies that will light up their own radiance.”