Published by Thames & Hudson
Publication date: October 16th 2012
Genres: fashion, Non-fiction
In a coup of fortuitous timing the movie Anna Karenina opened in the U.S today, showcasing gorgeous costumes with sublime jewelry by Chanel, while earlier in the week, publishers Thames & Hudson released Jewelry by Chanel.
In this luxe coffee-table book author Patrick Mauriès covers Chanel’s stylistic journey in jewelry and draws a correlation between her style and her personal life. The influence of both lovers (Boy Capel, the Duke of Westminster) and artistic friends (Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso) infused her work.
Rarely has the story of a life been so closely interwoven with the transformation of a sensibility and the evolution of a style.
Chanel’s venture into jewelry did not begin until 19 years after she opened her first shop and coincided with the economic depression going on at the time. It was in 1932 that she showed her first jewelry line, composed solely of diamond pieces. Rather than showing the line on the traditional black velvet covered stands she chose to use her private apartments and display the pieces on wax mannequins so they would be more faithfully represented against the female form. The pieces were unique in that they were all made without any visible settings or clasps and each piece could be transformed for a different use (necklace into bracelet, choker into tiara). The exhibition caused such a furor that no fewer than 250 articles were published about it in the international press. The collection was so iconic that 30 years later Chanel Fine Jewelry was resurrected and reissued the original pieces using the same metals and type of stones that Chanel herself had used. In 2012 the creation of 80 new designs took Chanel’s love of flexibility and fluidity to the next level with bolder gems and invisible settings.
In Jewelry by Chanel the reader is educated by Mauriès thorough research and restrained prose and seduced by the exquisite photographs of the jewelry. Some are from the advertisements or editorial pieces of the time, while others are close-ups of individual pieces, either in black-and-white or full color. The book follows the progression of Chanel’s jewelry aesthetic and design sense from the initial diamond collection to her love of the Byzantine and the Baroque and the reflection of both in later collections: mixing precious and semi-precious stones in the same piece (rubies with peridots) and what most today associate with Chanel jewelry—pearls and more pearls. This is eye candy for any woman who loves jewelry and wants to learn more about Chanel, the history of her style, and her inspirations. With the holidays approaching it would make a welcome addition to any book-loving fashionista’s collection.
Keira Knightley, from Anna Karenina, wearing a Chanel necklace, with the iconic camellia flower motif and containing 693 diamonds totaling 86 carats.