For this new high jewellery collection, Chanel stops in Venice. The Italian city is the enchanting background to jewels that interpret Gabrielle Chanel’s symbols through one of her favourite destinations.
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Escale à Venise – the inspiration
Same as Mademoiselle Chanel, Patrice Leguéreau, Director of Chanel Design Studio, is in love with Venice, too.
While strolling around the lagoon city – a true open-air museum – he enjoys sketching and composing evocative watercolours. Mr Leguéreau’s visual impression goes on paper the same as Mademoiselle would express hers through her clothes and accessories.
Venice was important for Gabrielle Chanel. The city has important symbols that had a powerful hold on her.
Born under the Leo sign, Coco Chanel felt a strong connection to Venice, dominated and protected by St Mark’s Leo – the city’s symbol.
The lion, Venice’s emblem, the city’s views of the Canal Grande with its gondolas, of its little islands, all find their voice in the new high jewellery collection, Escale à Venise.
This collection presents 70 high jewellery creations, 22 of which are one-of-a-kind pieces. There are also 4 brooches in a limited edition of five pieces each and 5 high jewellery watches.
To express Venice’s colours and the city’s happiness, Chanel used various gems: white diamonds, yellow diamonds, and coloured precious stones. These include blue and yellow sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
The collection is an incredible feast for the eyes, thanks to the display of fine and hard stones, too, like red spinels, fire opals, cornelian, lapis-lazuli, chrysoprase, tsavoritàe garnets, mandarins, nephrite jade, and more!
The Escale à Venise collection is divided into four main chapters, all dealing with a specific theme, as it is traditional for Chanel.
The symbols in the collection are varied. For example, the Lion stands for Venice’s courage and strength. Venice was a powerful and independent maritime republic from the 5th century to the mid-1800s, when it was annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Being the city’s emblem, the lion is everywhere in Venice. Moreover, the lion is Gabrielle Chanel’s zodiac sign, as she was born on 19th August 1883. So the lion serves as a very personal link between Mademoiselle Chanel and the city itself.
It is the day of my birth, August 19th. I was born under the Leo sign. For I am a lion and, like him, I put my claws out to prevent anyone from hurting me. But, believe me, I suffer more from scratching than from being scratched.Gabrielle Chanel in Pierre Galante, Les Années Chanel, Mercure de France, 1972, p. 322
Escale à Venise: the chapters
This group of jewels, the Eblouissante set, recalls Venice’s dreamy architecture through its geometric lines and compositions.
White diamonds and pink sapphires render the white and rose of the marble façades. The gems are set in rose gold and platinum, also replicating the colour schemes outlines by the precious stones.
Furthermore, there are different diamond cuts, such as the round, the baguette and the Asscher cuts, which reflect the variety of Venice’s building lines.
In a mix of Baroque and Byzantine styles, the Eblouissante jewellery is set to transport us among aristocratic residences and the golden mosaics in St Mark basilica. The design references to the Greek cross are quite powerful, too.
This chapter is all about the Canal Grande, the gondolas and their gondoliers.
The jewels recall the gondoliers’ typical hats, the spiralling white and red of the gondolas’ mooring posts and their black keels, the blue of the water and the yellow of the cords.
These jewels are about the maritime world in all its glory!
Isole della Laguna
This set of jewels is the celebration of the great savoir-faire at Chanel. This chapter is divided into three sections unified by one keyword: camelia.
The camelia is Chanel’s flowery symbol, an ever-present motif across the collections, from fashion to accessories to make-up and jewellery.
So it is not surprising to find the camelia – which has its own dedicated fine jewellery collection – also here in the Escale à Venise high jewellery presentation.
The camelia is interpreted following three inspiration moods: the baroque, the Byzantine and the Venetian ones.
And so the ‘Camelia Baroque’ goes with the opulence – of materials and design. The jewels in this set stun with their amount of white diamonds, contrasted by the black onyx, which profiles the designs with refined accents.
The ‘Camelia Byzantin’ set brings back the rich and colourful hues of the mosaics in St Mark’s basilica and on the island of Torcello – red, deep red, green, gold.
The setting of the gems immediately a mosaic composition made of the most precious tesserae.
Finally, the ‘Camelia Venitien’ draws its inspiration from the Venetian mirrors that Gabrielle Chanel had in her apartment to recreate the city’s baroque atmosphere.
With their antiqued gold and flowery decorations, these mirrors transfer their grace into jewels that tell a story of opulent refinement.
This is why these jewels are in yellow gold, the protagonist here, punctuated with diamonds and beautiful flowers made of rock crystal. These bejewelled flowers are a touching homage to Murano’s worldwide famous glassworks.
The Spirit of Venice
Last but not the least, the ‘spirit of Venice’ cannot but be the lion himself.
So, we are not surprised that this emblem is a recurrent motif in Chanel’s creative process, as it was so important and so personal to Mademoiselle.
Moreover, being the symbol of Venice, the presence and importance of the lion become more powerful, vivid and suggestive.
If arriving from the sea, one looks at the lion of Venice appearing at the top of the column in St Mark’s piazza, one’s gaze will immediately be captured by the sky and the fabulous decorations on St Mark Basilica’s façade.
The blue and the gold of these decorations guided the hands of Chanel’s designers to compose the Constellation Astrale set.
In fact, in this set, the deep blue of the sky translates into a mosaic of lapis-lazuli sprinkled by a cloud of golden dust. And, to brighten this precious sky up, the set is embellished by golden stars and white diamonds.
Lion Emblématique and Lion Secret
These last two sets have the lion as their main protagonist.
In fact, in the ‘Lion Emblématique’ set, the lion head appears, in full gold, in all its majesty, accented by the intensity of the yellow sapphires.
The ‘Lion Secret’ set, on the other hand, let the lion shine through the light of the purest diamonds, its necklace being one of the most sumptuous and regal pieces in this collection. It slightly reminds us of Chanel’s Le Paris Russe de Chanel high jewellery collection.
With this final set, the symbol which reigns supreme over Venice, the lion, which belonged so personally to Gabrielle Chanel, sets its kingly gaze on the Escale à Venise high jewellery collection.