Chanel « Tweed de Chanel »
“Tweed de Chanel” brings the sensuality of woven fabrics to Chanel’s high jewelry watches.
Last week, as Haute Couture week got underway in Paris, Chanel once more turned its sights to tweed. Fashion director Virginia Viard’s Spring/Summer 2020 show at the Grand Palais, staged as a planted garden at the Aubazine convent where Gabrielle Chanel grew up, made generous use of tweeds in a range of weaves and colors. It was in line with a tradition that the late Karl Lagerfeld had started in 1983 when he incorporated tweeds in his first couture collection for the fashion house, taking his cue from Gabrielle Chanel and the irreverence with which, in the 1920s, she had borrowed fabrics from men’s garments to design women’s clothes.
The tweed jacket with a chain-weighted hem is a perennial classic at Chanel. It is therefore understandable that Patrice Leguereau, director of the Creation Studio for Chanel jewelry, would one day also want to foray into woven tweeds. Leguereau who joined the maison just over a decade ago, had long admired the workmanship of the Maison Lesage, maker of Chanel’s beautifully textured tweeds. For the house’s new high jewelry collection called Tweed de Chanel, Leguereau looked to the unique know-how of Lesage, owned by Chanel since 2002, to break new ground in high jewelry: create a collection that was inspired by the look of tweed, and applied the same techniques to create the same tactile sensation.
Tweed Frangé © © WorldTempus / Nazanin Lankarani
“I was fascinated by tweed from the outset,” Leguereau said. “Meeting Francois Lesage allowed me to look at the work that was being done ‘backstage’ at Chanel. I had long wondered whether weavings techniques could be replicated to produce the same extraordinary effect in jewelry. So for us, this collection was a real adventure into the unknown.”
One the many advantages of employing exceptional craftsmen in the house is the cross-pollination of know-how that is bound to occur between different divisions. It makes it possible for a maison like Chanel to experiment, relying on different specialties to address daunting complexities when it seeks to push the limits of its own creativity.
And so last week, in the private salons of its Place Vendôme flagship filled with the wild flowers of Scotland - cradle of tweeds - Chanel unveiled the 45-piece Tweed de Chanel in an assortment of metals and precious stones. Rich in colors and textures, the collection achieved the sensuality of tweeds by applying centuries-old weaving techniques borrowed from Scotland and mastered to perfection by Maison Lesage.
“We rely on experienced gemsetters who are not afraid of experimenting,” Leguereau said. “The challenges were there, but our artisans were highly motivated to make this happen.”
This collection includes three jeweled watches, each with a bracelet and bezel designed by applying techniques used in handweaving more malleable materials like wool yarn and silk mousseline. This time, the challenge was to take horizontal and vertical strands in metal, whether twisted or set with precious stones, and weave them, crisscross, with a delicate, metallic chain and other strands, to create a precise and nearly symmetrical grid. Inside and out, like a woven tweed, the finish is nearly identical.
Tweed Cordage © WorldTempus / Nazanin Lankarani
The “Tweed Contrasté” secret watch combines cultured pearls, onyx and diamonds set on white gold and platinum, and interlaced with a yellow gold chain – like that contouring the hem of Chanel’s jackets - on the bracelet.
Tweed Contrasté © Chanel
The "Tweed Frangé" watch, in white gold, set with diamonds, achieves a softly, draping effect thanks to an open-worked bracelet. The “Tweed Cordage” piece is a more rigid option with an interlocking, woven rope surrounding the bezel on an open bangle-style bracelet. All three watches are quartz-powered, and made to order in an unlimited edition.
“Watches in our high jewelry collections are another expression of Chanel’s creativity in jewelry-making,” said Nicolas Beau, International Business Development director for watches and fine jewelry at Chanel. “They are a version of a jeweled bracelet. The cases are produced by Chanel in Switzerland, but everything else in our Paris studio.”
Still, it is difficult to get a real sense of the refinement of this collection without actually feeling the extraordinary suppleness of the pieces.
“To translate the flexibility of fabric in jewelry, using materials that are hard and weighty was a real challenge,” Leguereau said. “We were able to perfect the techniques to create pieces that were soft, textured, easy and feminine.”
That statement can be verified both under a loupe and in the wearable comfort of each precisely-crafted piece in the Tweed de Chanel collection, a promising new chapter in Chanel’s great book of tweeds.
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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