Chanel presents the Coromandel collection, a fine jewellery edit dedicated to Coco’s love for lacquered folding screens
If Gabrielle Chanel ever had to travel light, her must-haves would be two Chinese screens and her books. "I'm like a snail," she once confided to biographer Claude Delay. "I carry my house with me."
Indeed, another lesser-known great love of the iconic fashion designer, beautifully lacquered 17th and 18th century Chinese folding screens was an obsession Coco surrounded herself with. This love story began in the 1910s when she first laid eyes on one such screen, and ever since has ensured this gem of interior décor has followed her wherever she moved, from her mansion on Avenue de New York to her suite at the Ritz Paris, and even her villa in Lausanne.
With lacquered surfaces depicting images of mythical China, Imperial Cathay, and the Coromandel Coast of East India, the charms of the folding screen exude a sense of otherworldly-ness, gleaming against the dark wood on which the scenes were painted. Mademoiselle Chanel was so entranced; she never tired in her search for new ones, and at one point amassed more than 30 screens. Some she gave away but she always had enough to, quote-unquote, "upholster my home". And it is at her famed 31 Rue Cambon apartment that the house's Studio of Creation spotlighted the screens decorating her home, surrounding the fireplace and the sofa.
Captured in reflection on the mirrors and rock crystals, the beautifully lacquered panels appeared to be multiplied to infinity, creating a glittering mirage of endless seas and mountains that magnify Mademoiselle Coco's apartment. Inspired by this poetic universe, the Coromandel collection is thus the fine jewellery embodiment of the wonder and lustre found within these exquisite screens.
Featuring motifs dear to Coco, the 59-piece collection — out of which 24 are entirely unique — centres on three themes: Floral, to evoke her signature camellia bloom; animal, to echo the Coromandel's fantastical bestiary; mineral to highlight her love of crystal and gemstones. Crafted with a bevy of coloured stones including tsavorite garnets, emeralds, tourmalines, spinels and rubies, the pieces collectively recall the hues of the Coromandel lacquers. At once magical yet technical, one look and you'll fall in love with the collection as surely as Gabrielle fell in love with Coromandel screens. Now see the savoir-faire of Chanel in the gallery above.
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