Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was enamoured of the camellia flower. She even used to tuck the fresh bloom into her belt as ornamentation. Today, maison Chanel reiterates its love of the camellia by creating beautiful jewellery pieces shaped like the flower.
“The camellia is not a flower,” the House of Chanel proclaims, but the “expression of an independent and rebellious attitude like Mademoiselle’s.” The predilections of the inimitable Mademoiselle Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel continue to shape maison Chanel’s aesthetic codes long after her passing. The camellia is but one such motif.
According to Chanel, Gabrielle Chanel’s love of the bloom might have begun at age 13, when she saw a performance of Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel La Dame Aux Camélias. The novel’s heroine always wore a camellia flower, which supposedly symbolised a pure heart. By her couturier years, Gabrielle Chanel was known to adore the flower. The reasons were numerous: The camellia was beautiful – like a rose without thorns, and perfectly symmetrical; it was scentless and would not distract from the scent of her No. 5 fragrance; it was also believed to have the power to drive bad spirits away. Whatever the reason, her love for the flower was not in question. The camellia first appeared in her collections in 1924, and has since remained a steadfast icon of maison Chanel.
This year, Chanel renews its commitment to the camellia by making it the central motif of its jewellery, with two new fine jewellery collections called Extrait de Camélia and Pétales de Camélia, and a high jewellery collection called 1.5.
Extrait de Camélia is a literal take on the camellia motif. It comprises four simple pieces of jewellery: a necklace, ring, and two pairs of earrings, all constructed in pink gold, with a diamond at the heart of each camellia. Intended as daily-wear items, these jewellery would follow a woman throughout her life, and never go out of style.
The Pétales de Camélia collection is more stylised and contemporary. Every piece features the delicate outline of the camellia flower, with each of its petals defined by a fine thread of gold. The flowers are curved, as if blown by the wind, and rest perfectly along the curves of the wearer’s body. A single-sided earring, for instance, is gently curved to fit around the lobe of the ear, while a between-the-fingers ring has the petals contoured to fit the curvature of a woman’s fingers. The collection comprises five pieces of jewellery, each of which also has a white diamond at the heart of the flower.
Last but not least comes the 1.5 high jewellery collection. The name may seem odd at first, but numbers and numerology were also things that Gabrielle Chanel supposedly held in high regard—after all, her most famous perfume is identified by a number. The collection’s tagline is 1 camélia, 5 allures, alluding to the numerous ways in which some of the jewellery can be worn. Of the 50 pieces in the collection, 23 are transformable. The diamond-studded Révelation Diamant necklace, for instance, has a large detachable camellia that can be worn as a brooch or a hairpin. The necklace itself is perfectly finished, including the area under the camellia, so that it can be worn on its own, with the long end draped down the torso or back. The same goes for several other pieces in the collection: Earrings can be worn at different lengths, a ring has different guises, and the camellia atop a jewellery box can be worn as a brooch. As Gabrielle Chanel once said, “My (jewels) are flexible and detachable […] You can take apart the jewellery and use it to match a hat or fur. In this way, the set of jewelry is no longer an immutable object. Life transforms it and bends it to its needs.”
So don’t be afraid to do as Coco did, and wear your own jewellery in a manner that befits your personal style. Who knows, the camellia might just become your favourite flower too.
Product images courtesy of Chanel, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.