Gabrielle Chanel discovered adventure and joy in Venice, which quickly became her favourite destination. The latest Chanel high-jewellery collection, Escale à Venise, documents the mesmerising city through her eyes.
Chanel’s high-jewellery collections always come with beautiful narratives, inspired by founder Gabrielle Chanel’s lifestyle, travels and inspirations. We’ve seen breathtaking collections inspired by the Coromandel screens that so lavishly decorate her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon, by her favourite flower (the camellia), as well as by her star sign (Leo). This time, it’s Venice that plays a role in the Chanel Escale à Venise high-jewellery collection, which features 70 one-of-a-kind creations that capture the spirit of the floating city. Chanel first paid a visit to Venice in 1920, shortly after the death of the love of her life, Boy Capel. It was a trip organised by her dearest friends in a bid to pull her out of her grief, distracting the young woman with the best things the city had to offer: the charming canals, winding alleys, museums, restaurants and rich architecture. It’s said that Venice soon became her favourite destination.
There she discovered a new attraction to gold and found lifelong inspiration in its symbols and history – the patron saint of the city, the Lion of St Mark, no doubt resonated with her love for the Leo sign, too. Under the creative direction of Patrice Leguéreau, the Escale à Venise collection is divided into four distinct chapters that paint a contemporary look at Venice as if through Mademoiselle Chanel’s eyes. The director of jewellery creation was careful to weave all the codes of the maison into the collection, from camellias, lions and stars, to sautoir pearl necklaces and chains, creating pieces that are precious and whimsical, yet truly and distinctly Chanel.
The first theme, Sérénissime, celebrates the architectural wealth of Venice. The Eblouissante set, composed of white and pink geometrical designs, recalls the facades of the palaces and the polychromatic marble floors of the churches in delicate pink spinels, white diamonds and pearls. The Sérénissime set, on the other hand, captures the Byzantine spirit of the mosaics of the “golden basilica” in a contemporary light, using onyx, diamond squares, pink, yellow and orange sapphire tesserae, as well as spessartine garnets with a 27.09-carat oval mandarin sapphire centre stone. The Gran Canale is another major inspiration, featuring pieces that interpret the city quite literally.
Elements of the lagoon are featured in lapis lazuli and diamonds, from the blue-and-white-striped mooring poles used by the gondolas to the canotier straw hats edged with red ribbons worn by the gondoliers. When you visit Venice, you don’t just visit the city. The surrounding lagoon islands are home to some of the most beautiful Italian crafts, from Torcello’s ancient mosaics, to Murano’s stunning glasswork. The Isole della Laguna consists of three sets dedicated to these métiers d’art. The Camélia Byzantin necklace and ring set celebrates Chanel’s favourite flower in a mosaic-like design in carnelians and fire opals, and is a beautiful tribute to Torcello.
The island of Murano is represented in the Camélia Vénitien set, showcasing the camellia flower in twisting ornamental garlands of yellow gold and rock crystal.And lastly, most majestically, is Spirito di Venezia – the spirit of Venice – expressed through the patron of the city, the Lion of St Mark, which sits high above every piazza and adorns every historical building in the city. The lion motif, so dear to Chanel herself, now appears in this collection in five distinguished sets. The monochromatic Lion Secret necklace, inspired by bas-relief, displays the profile of two white gold lions set with pear and shuttle-cut diamonds, with a centre pear-shaped diamond of 15.55 carats. The Lion Céleste set features the winged lion itself, while the Constellation Astrale set is inspired by the background of the winged lion as seen on the facade of Saint Mark’s Basilica, in a striking necklace carved from lapis lazuli mosaic with yellow sapphire stars.
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