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Chanel: Café Society

Aug 26, 14 Chanel: Café Society

Despite the fact that she was never visited it, Gabrielle Chanel as a true French was enchanted by Russia. With natives of the East Slavic Empire, melancholic romantics, in the depth of which eyes and souls it is so easily to drown, Mademoiselle met more than once at the most important crossroads of her extraordinary destiny. A love story with the Grand Duke Dimitri, turned into a long lasting friendship, was at the origin of the creation of a “women’s perfume with the scent for women” («un parfum de femme à odeur de femme») – the legendary Chanel N5 – the most successful ever created in the history of perfumery. In fact that was the Grand Duke who presented Gabriel to the French perfumer Ernest Beaux, who worked at the Russian Tsar’s court. It was that Ernest Beaux, who later embodied the Mademoiselle’s idea of a perfect fragrance.

Lithographie Chanel 1921 Chanel by Warhol

Chanel and Beaux

And, of course, legendary “Russian Ballet Seasons” (Ballets Russes) of the beginning of the last century, which had turned the entire Parisian beau monde upside down, breaking all the traditions. Gabriel acts as a patron of arts, inviting to stay at her own residence «Bel Respiro» in Garches the indigent author of “The Rite of Spring” Igor Stravinsky with his family. She also creates costumes for Diaghilev’s “Le Train bleu”, the decor for which draws famous Pablo Picasso, and the libretto writes the legendary Jean Cocteau. Paris is going through an era of creative breaking – young and talented poets, artists, musicians, fashion designers, choreographers and dancers replace the old high establishment.

Ballet Russian Ballet Seasons 1924

Gabrielle Chanel with her impeccable look is independent and free: free to live, to create and to love. She becomes one of the protagonists of the new cosmopolitan “aristocracy with a taste” and creates fashion that is radically different from everything that was done before. No wonder that French writer Paul Morand, Chanel’s contemporary, called Mademoiselle “an angel destroying the style of the XVIII century” («l’ange exterminateur d’un style XVIII siècle»).

Jewelry had always been a passion for Chanel and same full-fledged way of expression as clothing. Only she, in her inimitable manner, was able to brilliantly combine flannel trousers with diamonds and skillfully alternate natural pearl strings with artificial ones. Leveling the “taboo” in everything she touched with her bracelets studded hand, Mademoiselle brought into vogue the idea of wearing jewelry at any time of the day and for no special occasion, not limited to evening sorties.

Coco and jewelry Valse of Chanel pearls

Continuing the “Les perles de Chanel” presented during the Paris haute couture week in January, the new jewelry collection “Café society” embodies the spirit of the brightest, the most iconic and successful period of Chanel: the period behind which lies a historical epoch bearing the same name as the collection (“Café society”). The First World War is finally over, and the society, starving for entertainment, plunges into a celebration of life. Concerts and exhibitions, dinner parties and costume balls gather high society from Paris to Venice and from Cote d’Azur to the New York’s Long Island.


Coco’s style, becoming synonymous to that daring era, is eccentric and bold for its time. It took inspirations from the merger of Gabriel’s childhood memories of the orphanage in Aunazine, from horse races that accompanied her youth, from the male society, which she preferred to the female one, and from her men. It was influenced by unfulfilled dreams of a happy marriage – first with an English polo player Boy Capell, the first and perhaps the only true love of the designer, and then with the Duke of Westminster and their romantic trip to Scotland lakes (famous tweed and checks echoes that same period in the life of Chanel, when it seemed that all dreams come true).

Coco & Boy 1913 Scottish tweed

Close to constructivism, concluded in the concept of concise bottle of N5, and inspired by the symbolism of surrealism in its ability to combine seemingly incompatible, Chanel’s style embodied in the “Café society” collection is a manifesto of European eclecticism.

The choice of the Théâtre des Champs Elysée for the presentation of the “Café society” is not accidental. It was here where more than a century ago “Russian Seasons” were held, uniting under one theater roof top talents on the stage and the cream of the society in the audience.

The collection is dominated by avant-garde clean lines, accentuated by the classic combination of black and white: white gold and diamonds with black onyx.

Cufflink Charleston Earrings Midnight Ring Smoking

The “Broadway” set as if repeating geometry lines of the eponymous district of New York. «Symphony» draws inspiration from elements of the musical staff, while in the «Bubbles» set one can guess the square of Chanel N5 bottle and the shape of Place Vendôme, where in the hotel «Ritz» spent the last years of her life the great Mademoiselle.

Bracelet Broadway Necklace Symphony Watches Bubbles

Color dualism is broken in ensembles «Sunset» and «Sunrise», where soft pink sapphire framed by rose gold («Sunset») and yellow sapphire framed by yellow («Sunrise») were used by jewelers to soften the gamma. In the «Sunset» the key element of the design is a camellia, which is one of the symbols of the fashion house, and, accordingly, of the Chanel style.

Brooch Sunset Headband Sunset

Ring Sunrise Earrings Sunset

Another symbol dear to Coco were stars, which she firmly believed would influence her destiny, materialized in the set «Muse», where diamonds are combined with sky-blue sapphires.

Necklace Muse Earrings Muse Bracelet Muse

The name of the set «Morning in Vendôme» speaks for itself. Necklace, brooch, bracelet, earrings and ring with a 6.1carat emerald framed with 168 diamonds, 20 sapphires and 149 yellow diamonds embody the very dreams of luxury.

Ring Morning in Vendome Necklace

“Fashion passes, but style remains,” said Gabrielle Chanel, all her works proved this axiom. Continuing the tradition of the founder, the fashion house jewelers create timeless pieces – the eternal values of high carats and fine cut, enclosed in a precious frame.

Coco Chanel with Russian ballet dancer Serge Lifar Matryoshka Chanel

Coco loved Russia, and Russian together with admirers all over theworld, pay her in return.