Chanel The interview with Arnaud Chastaingt, part 2
The Director of the Studio de Création Horlogerie talks about the House's new products for 2020.
This is also the year for the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton creation, which ushers in a new chapter in the story of signature Chanel Haute Horlogerie by taking a fresh and unexpected look at a House legend from a watchmaking perspective. Could you define the Mademoiselle Privé collection for us?
In my opinion, the Mademoiselle Privé collection is actually the most intimate side of Chanel Haute Horlogerie. As well as the most feminine, it is perhaps the most confidential. A showcase for the House's rare know-how, this collection is an ode to artistry, and for me an incredible realm of expression. This collection is steeped in symbols and history. It's an exhibit of exclusive creations, often one-of-a-kind, where the artistic crafts of Watchmaking, Jewelry and Couture intersect.
Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Réf H6464 © Chanel
Why create the Bouton watch?
This object has fascinated me for a long time. Gabrielle Chanel put the button on an unprecedented pedestal. She shined a spotlight on a commonplace household object and raised it to the status of jewelry. She saw it as an artistic medium in itself, yet one that absolutely still had to serve its intended function. To say it in her words, "No buttons without buttonholes.” In this way, she created a functional piece of jewelry that could be reimagined in a myriad of ways. It was basically a precious statement piece. Inconspicuous or ostentatious, it's still there. It alone tells a story and draws you into a mystical world of Gabrielle Chanel’s symbols. For me, creating a “button” watch was one of those artistic obsessions that seems so obvious you can’t get it out of your head. Chanel began as a fashion house, but 30 years ago it barged into the tight knit inner circle of watchmaking. I am inspired by that world and fascinated by its free spirit. I dreamed of a button as a timepiece. I dreamed of unstitching a jacket sleeve and just leaving the lapel and the buttonhole. It will seem obvious where I got the inspiration for the architecture of the Bouton watch’s bracelet. Accentuated by a golden braid, a black tweed cuff folds over the wrist and fastens with a button. You cannot see the watch at first glance. It has enough taste to only show itself in secret. A button in gold, pearl and diamonds; only Chanel knows the secret to this couture time. Style first, then time, if you feel like it, or not! I immediately decided that I would not limit the BOUTON watch concept to just one creation and that I'd create a collection. It conveys the great depth of the Chanel button, both in terms of its artistic variety and its precious nature. I brought in the pearl, the lion, the camellia and the Byzantine cross, and set them into the twisted braid on a yellow gold and diamond button. You can also make out Mademoiselle Chanel in this collection. A sculptor handcrafted a bas-relief of her iconic profile. A glyptician cut her portrait into a two-tone nicolo agate. A jeweler set this white-on-black cameo in the center of the button. Another distinguishing feature of this collection is a pair of High Jewelry pieces. Supple tweed was replaced with two white gold cuffs, one entirely set with diamonds and the other covered in black. The Mademoiselle Privé Bouton watch is steeped in intrigue – a daring creation in the watchmaking world, but an obvious move for Chanel.
Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Réf H6467 © Chanel
You also sense this desire to use Chanel time’s signature allure in one of your latest creations, Code Coco. Is it a one-of-a-kind watchmaking creation, too?
At first glance, Code Coco is nothing like a watch, at least in the conventional sense of the word. I designed this creation as a piece of jewelry, the only difference is that it's jewelry that tells time. Code Coco's trump card is ambiguity and disguise. Its architecture is based on a new interpretation of a mechanism invented by Gabrielle Chanel in 1955: the Mademoiselle clasp on the legendary 2.55 bag. Code Coco is also a bracelet with quilted geometry, a metal ribbon that wraps around itself and fastens on top of the wrist. The clasp serves more than a closing function. Once it's adorned with diamonds, it also becomes a jewel. Since it contains a watch, it's mostly a timepiece. Code Coco is a jewel, yet deep down it is far from lacking a certain amount of technology. I like categorizing it as a “mechanical jewel.” It's a paradox in that it combines a precious and supple quilted steel ribbon with the mechanics of a functional clasp turned watch. Code Coco: a coded allure to decode!
Could you tell us about the four limited editions you created for Code Coco this year?
In 2020, I was going for the extravagance of an oversized look. It has an over-arched line and wraps around the wrist like a cuff. The XXL steel bracelet has not lost any of its suppleness. It has a commanding omnipresence and exudes a different sort of preciousness. It captivates you at first glance and arms the wrist with excess and fascination. I also decided this year to reconnect with Code Coco's origins. Taking inspiration from the clasp on the 2.55 bag, I’ve adorned it in black leather. It has the same silhouette, but the steel ribbon becomes a leather ribbon embossed with a motif that is reminiscent of a well-known quilted pattern. True to its source of inspiration, the lining is in signature burgundy leather, a detail that connoisseurs will recognize from the distinctive lining of the iconic 2.55. There clasp is also adorned with leather, steel and diamonds. Code Coco loves fashion and its free spirit. Without concessions, one iteration is dressed all in black for an extreme look that the boldest women will love. The dress code for this Code Coco So Black edition will be rock n’ roll. The gleam of its blackened steel clasp contrasts with the stylish matte look of the black ceramic bracelet. Lastly, in a beige gold dress unveils a bracelet with a whirl of randomly scattered white diamonds. The interplay of this coded motif creates contemporary preciousness. Excessive, nostalgic, rock n’ roll or precious - Code Coco's devil-may-care attitude is captivating.
In 2020, the Monsieur de Chanel watch created a stir in an unexpected place. Could you explain the motivation behind this creation?
The Monsieur watch got dressed to the nines and raised a lot of eyebrows when it took on an upscale black-tie look. This style exercise amused me to no end. Without losing any of its characteristic elegance, the men's timepiece in our collection put on a bespoke suit cut exclusively out of material made from calibrated diamonds. Who says men don’t like diamonds? At CHANEL, this is not a luxury solely reserved for women. Monsieur proves it! Chanel writes its own rules in Haute Horlogerie for men. A diamond, yes, but a baguette cut for a precious feel that's understated and graphic. It has a fainter glare and the stone's geometry accentuates the watch’s architecture while maintaining its identity. In order to craft this piece, the watchmakers at the Manufacture invited the House’s stone cutters, jewelers and gemsetters into their studio. The supremely sophisticated Monsieur opted for invisible gemsetting. The bezel and middle part of the watch are lined with stones. As are the corners. For its dial, Monsieur chose a quilted pattern and silvery etched detail for its movement zone. Indeed, in 2020, the Monsieur watch took on the elegant diamond look to dress up its Manufacture Caliber 1 movement, jumping hour and retrograde minute hand. A custom-made Haute Horlogerie tuxedo to clothe all its mechanisms. In 2020, “diamonds are Monsieur's best friend.”
To finish up, 2020 is the year for J12 turning 20 and a number of new items. How would you sum up your vision for Chanel Watchmaking?
I can perfectly sum up my current vision for Chanel Watchmaking in five words: IT’S CHANEL O’CLOCK. I like the irreverence of the idea that allure is mandatory when telling Chanel time.
Through her life, Gabrielle Chanel embodied strength, character and a fierce desire for independence. Maison CHANEL, avant-garde and constantly innovative, has come down through the decades to become an unmistakable symbol of distinction, elegance and refinement.Find out more >
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