Gabrielle Chanel was a creature of contrasts: there was Mademoiselle Chanel of the most sumptuous baroque, of gilded wood and brilliant lacquer, of rococo mirrors and dazzling jewelry, a playful, unrestrained Coco; but there was also Gabrielle Chanel of the tailored suit and the little black dress, of the severe cut, of the utmost restraint, of rigour, in black and white.
Out of this dialogue between ostentation and austerity, between hyperbole and understatement, the fine jewelry that she created all her life, depending on the occassion or encounter, was unparalleled in its insistence on luxury and refinement, unfettered in its themes and its imagination, and drew inspiration from tradition without ever being the slave of everyday formulas or market values.
It is this rather secret heritage that the House of Chanel has drawn on for more than a decade in search of the spirit that emerges from the vocabulary of forms and the personal mythology of its creator, presented here as a sort of dialogue that spans the years. Here is a chance to discover the wealth of a repertoire whose range and inventiveness are only now being fully appreciated.
Based on close archival research and interviews with Chanel’s colleagues and other witnesses to her life and career, this book is the first to set in relief this singular facet of a fascinating personality: her passion for fabulous jewels, for exceptional stones, for improbable marvels, that should be considered ‘with innocence, with naivety, like enjoying an apple tree in blossom along the road as we speed by in a car’.