The Romantic Affairs Behind Chanel’s Latest High Jewellery Collection
One inspired by Imperial Russia, a country Coco Chanel has never stepped foot into. But how? Come in and we'll take you through it.| July 19, 2019
The iconic Chanel N°5 is known and loved by many, but in that same year it was born, Coco Chanel had set off on other plans, ones that shaped the French house’s newest high jewellery collection titled, “Le Paris Russe de Chanel”, or “Chanel’s Russian Paris”.
Chanel’s designs reflected many Russian influences, including those from Imperial Russia. But how it came about is actually rather peculiar, as she had never once set foot in the country. Instead, what brought her together with the culture was a brief, but intense love affair with the elegant and discreet Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II. From then on (or at least for awhile), it was Russe, Russe, Russe! Motifs, embroideries and colours all came to life based off of Coco Chanel’s vision of what Russia was, as told through the lenses of artists and aristocrats she came to know along the way.
Le Paris Russe de Chanel represents two different parts of her life: Russian splendour, a period where she was first introduced to the magnificence of refined Russia by her lover, and Russian Folklore, a place she came to know more, a place rich in colours, patterns and intricate embroideries.
During this period, Chanel had convinced Dimitri’s own sister, the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, to open Kitmir, an embroidery workshop that would go on to exclusively supply for the fashion house. Many of Chanel’s cloaks, tunics and large belted blouses were modelled after traditional roubachkas, too.
One of the key pieces in the 69-piece collection features the double-headed eagle, a historic Russian coat of arms, inspired by the mirror in her apartment on rue Cambon. Other signatures found their way into the collection too, like the camellia scattered on the transformable Sarafane headpiece, and wheat – one of Coco Chanel’s personal emblem of prosperity – lining the inner rims of a circular earring.
Some pieces like the Blé Maria brooch set dedicated to Dimitri featured softer colours, set in a velvet box with scattered images depicting the two lovers on vacation, on top of a love letter with filled with inside jokes shared between the two. Walk through the collection with us, either in the gallery above, or on video here.
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