It is nigh impossible to discuss the visual vocabulary of Chanel without dwelling on the quilted pattern otherwise known as the “matelassé.” Deeply entrenched in the living memory of the house, the matelassé is believed to have been inspired by the riding jackets worn by stable boys around racetracks, the stained-glass windows of the orphanage at the abbey at Aubazine in Corrèze, France where Chanel was raised, as well as by the cushions in her Paris apartment. Appearing first as a diamond-shaped, herringbone pattern traced by a running stitch on the exterior of the now-iconic 2.55 handbag in 1955, today it continues to loom heroic in the Signature de Chanel, the maison’s first high jewellery collection entirely dedicated to the quilted pattern.
It was just last Spring when the house of Chanel launched the incredibly wearable Coco Crush, a fine jewellery collection borne of impeccable elegance and simplicity to showcase the heritage quilted effect. This season, the atelier went a step further by spelling it out in diamonds and gemstones with a 48-piece collection of high jewels.
Presented in 11 sets, the mesmeric collection elevates the matelassé to a whole other turf of glamour, expressing purity of line and fluidity in form. There’s also an inescapable whiff of art deco, befitting considering Coco Chanel is often credited for introducing elaborate, art deco-inflected fashion jewellery in the 1920s. Glorious, graphic and yet surprisingly wearable, at the core of the collection is the voluminous Signature de Saphir necklace, prized at €2,850,000, which was made in the Chanel High Jewellery workshop at 18, Place Vendome. An agile and highly adaptable piece, it is made up of multiplying diamond-spattered curved squares that disperse into three rows, an ingenious way to add lightness to a piece that might otherwise give in to the weighty opulence of its diamonds.
The collection is sprinkled with blue sapphires, aquamarines, pearls, grey mother-of-pearl marquetry and rock crystals that offset the iciness of white gold and diamonds. While the utterly hypnotic gemstones might caper in the limelight, it is its versatility that truly delights, as seen worn over LBDs in the maison’s campaign shots, in the sort of dynamic daily scenarios. And there we have it: the past and present flawlessly fused in the Signature de Chanel.
For more information, visit www.chanel.com