Chanel Channeling Chanel's sense of humour
Funny, witty, self-mocking, full of winks and nods, Chanel's Interstellar capsule collection is setting an unexpected and rejoicing tone
Creation thrives with liberty, something that can feel scarce in a large company, with well-established management and clear-cut storytelling. And that liberty can even reach a point where it breeds a rare kind of result : humour. It is such an impressive effect Chanel's most recent watch creations have achieved.
A robot timepiece. A pixel art case. A cartoonesque dial. A watch so utterly large it becomes amusing. All of which spin Chanel's language on its head to make them funny, ha-ha funny. Under the leadership of Arnaud Chastaingt, Chanel's watch design studio has come up with a stand-up comedian-worthy salvo of watchmaking jokes within the Interstellar capsule collection. The timepieces themselves remain very seriously manufactured, but their theme, the freedom they're taking with the brand's elementary codes have reached a point that is delightfully bewildering.
Will you look at that : the rectangular, canted like the Place Vendôme Première, a serious watch, very couture-inspired, is receiving a robot's arms and head. Intelligently hinting at Chanel's branding elements, its claws are shaped like Cs, its eyes and shoulders are diamonds and its body is lacquered with the same black as the dial. To a certain extent, the Première Robot feels like an it-bag Charm. Blending genres and design idioms results in a watch that's bound to make anyone smile.
Chanel Première Robot © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Will you look at that : J12, that pillar of Chanel's watchmaking, the matter of books and in the brand's mind, the stuff of icons, is being tampered with. The lugs and caseband of the J12 Hyper Cybernetic have lost their smooth, continuous line. They're now crenelated, a see-saw shape underlined by an extensive and contrasting setting of diamonds. At the crossroads of digital and makeup art, it is no less than a backbone of its identity Chanel is toying with. Because J12 is not just a design or a product. It is a brand in and of itself.
Chanel J12 Hyper Cybernetic © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Will you look at that : the Boy.Friend is receiving an integrated circuit-like dial. There already was a somewhat digital aspect to the period in the middle of its name, like in www.chanel, or watchmaking 3.0. But this is actually going beyond mere novelty. The Boy.Friend Data is laughing in the face of smartwatches, digesting the zeitgeist and printing it in its very matter.
Chanel Boy.Friend Cyberdata © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Will you look at that : miss Chanel herself, the untouchable, beatified core that irrigates the brand's entire substance, is now a cartoon character. Her silhouette, complete with suit and hat, had already made a trail-blazing appearance on the Mademoiselle J12, as early as 2017, where her arms were actually the piece's hands. She's now floating in space on the dial of the J12 Cosmic, surrounded by satellites, Saturn and its rings. Coco is now, almost literally, a star.
Chanel J12 Cosmic © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Will you look at that last one : an haute couture metaphor is wittily becoming an entire capsule watch collection called Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles. This series of five models reinterprets the crafts of the Chanel couture workshop, such as sewing, lace-making or pattern-making, thanks to traditional watchmaking techniques, among which several types of gem-setting, enamel, guilloché and miniature sculpture. Transposing crafts, dropping Easter eggs and repurposing techniques, the entire enterprise is attention-worthy, not least among which its 55-mm diameter.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Does it take courage, or even a decent amount of obliviousness, to toy with such foundational items, to the point of being cheeky ? Actually, it doesn't. Self-mockery is the mark of great minds. And a brand would need to have absolute confidence in its power, position and conceptual integrity to allow itself to go that far. Specifically, said point is one where smiles, rejoicing and even laughter reside.
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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