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Chanel - Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

Chanel Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

Chanel unveils a whole collection inspired by the patterns of Gabrielle Chanel's Coromandel lacquered folding screens.

On June 29, ahead of the madness of Haute Couture Week, Chanel presented its new High Jewelry collection titled Coromandel in an exhibition space of the Grand Palais in Paris.

To set the tone for the show, an imposing 10-panel Coromandel screen had been transported to the site from Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment on the Rue Cambon, set up as a thoughtful greeting to visitors.

“We thought it would be a nice welcome and a good way to announce the theme of the show,” said the Maison Chanel.

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

Coromandel screens in Mademoiselle Chanel's apartment, 31 rue Cambon in Paris © Chanel Fine Jewelry

Through July 5, in an immersive environment of light and sound, under the shadow of suspended clouds and feathered creatures in flight, 59 pieces of the spectacular collection are displayed to interpret, as is the tradition at Chanel, motifs inspired from the private universe of Gabrielle Chanel, delving this time into her passion for exotic orientalism and the poetry of Chinese lacquered folding screens. 

The name Coromandel is derived from that of a coastal region in southeast India, even though the provenance of the screens is in fact southern China. The term actually refers to the technique used to create the panels by applying lacquer in even layers on top of a wooden base. Motifs are then carved into the lacquered screen’s surface with colored pigments added to the recesses.

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

Coromandel screens in Mademoiselle Chanel's apartment, 31 rue Cambon in Paris © Chanel Fine Jewelry

It was her lover, Boy Capel, who initiated Coco Chanel to the beauty of Coromandel panels in 1910. The Chinese lacquered folding panels soon became a fixture in Mademoiselle Chanel’s many residences around the world, upholstering her homes in Paris, her suite at the Ritz Hotel, and her villa in Lausanne. An avid collector of Coromandel screens, Gabrielle Chanel at one point owned 32 such folding panels. According to the historian, Justine Picardie, author of the biography Chanel, Her Life, Gabrielle Chanel had come to love them, “in part because, like medieval tapestries, they allowed her to recreate her home wherever she might move to.” The Maison Chanel explained:

“Gabrielle Chanel lived in a lacquered box where sailing ships, palaces, flowers and birds, in flashes of gold and deep red, stood out against the darkness of the night. ‘I’m like a snail,’ she confided to Claude Delay. “I carry my house with me… Two Chinese screens, books everywhere. I’ve never been able to live in an open house.  The first thing I look for is screens.’”

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

Gabrielle Chanel in front of a Coromandel screen in 1937 © Boris Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

Sophisticated and elegant, the collection, of which 29 pieces are one-of-a-kind, features intricately crafted necklaces, high-octane rings, four jeweled watches and a rare addition of delicate brooches. While mostly monochromatic, eight pieces in the collection, including a watch, dazzle the eye, some with the fire of yellow and brown diamonds, others with rubies and red spinels, and varying shades of green emeralds, tourmalines and tsavorites. 

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

« Vol Suspendu » in white gold and diamonds © Chanel Fine Jewelry

The motifs throughout the collection take the decorative patterns of Coromandel panels – imaginary feathered birds and languid branches in exotic gardens - and beautifully transpose them in a modern reinterpretation around three themes: the floral, evoking Chanel’s signature flower, the Camellia; the fauna, in the shape of birds of flight; and the mineral, reflecting Chanel’s attachment to crystal and gemstones.

Each of the four high jewelry watches is a stunning example of the precise craftsmanship of Chanel’s master engravers, carvers and stone-setters.

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

« Impression florale » in white gold with diamonds © Chanel Fine Jewelry

The “Vol Suspendu” timepiece, in white gold and diamonds, explores the flight of feathered birds in two versions, one of them a secret watch.  In the floral line, the “Impression Florale” watch, in white gold and diamonds, boasts a fully jeweled bracelet that evokes the naturalistic repertoire of the Coromandel landscape, albeit in a highly stylized and architectural rendition of the rectangular panels. The “Fleur de Laque” watch, in a combination of white and yellow gold, features cultured pearls on the bracelet, while touches of black lacquer and mother of pearl add an “Asian” touch.  The fourth and last timepiece, the “Calligraphie Florale,” rich in colors, combines white gold, platinum, white diamonds, pigeon-blood rubies, emeralds, enhanced by the hues of orange sapphires and black spinels for contrast.

Coromandel High Jewelry watch collection

« Fleur de laque » in white and yellow gold © Chanel Fine Jewelry

While this is the first time that Chanel has fully embraced the theme of Coromandel in a complete collection, the Maison had in the past touched on similarly inspired themes.  In 2003, the Jardin de Camelias collection had featured a Coromandel-inspired parure.  In 2012, the Mademoiselle Privé watch collection, first shown at Baselworld, had featured a series of delicately sculpted gold flying birds perched on tremblers on the métiers d’art dials.

Collection de montres Haute Joaillerie Coromandel

« Calligraphie Florale » in white gold, platinum, white diamonds, pigeon-blood rubies, emeralds, orange sapphires and black spinels © Chanel Jewelry

“This time, we have interpreted the Coromandel décor in a more stylized manner,” explained the Maison Chanel.  “Some motifs are figurative, others are left to your imagination.”

Lecture 1 Comment(s)

4 September 2018
marcolongo Elisa
Splendido.... Se coco chanel fosse ancora lo avrebbe amato moltissimo e sicuramente indossato !!!!! creatuvuta e Amore Elisa Marcolongo

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