PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston May 2022

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Page 35 of 99

I n 1932, Gabrielle Chanel created the now iconic jewelry collection Bijoux de Diamants. Some 90 years later, the collection of diamond brooches, rings, and necklaces remains both a milestone in the history of the house and a pivotal moment in the world of jewelry. This summer, Chanel launches the 1932 collection to celebrate the occasion. To truly understand the moment, one must first understand the setting. The year 1932 saw a world coming out of the Great Depression while trying to shake off the economic turmoil that marked the end of the Roaring Twenties. People looked for a light at the end of the tunnel — new beginnings coming out of dark times. France, whose post-war economy significantly GABRIELLE CHANEL'S FIRST JEWELRY COLLECTION, 90 YEARS LATER By Steven Hempel CELEBRATING BIJOUX outpaced the rest of Europe, saw jazz spring to life in Parisian night clubs and composer/conductor Philippe Gaubert reinvigorate the magnificent Palais Garnier opera house. As with many luxury goods, sales of diamonds had suffered greatly during the downturn. To change this, the London Diamond Corporation commissioned Gabrielle Chanel to create a new collection. It would be dazzling and opulent: around 50 pieces, with white and yellow diamonds set in platinum and gold. It was the first high jewelry collection ever launched, and the only one from Gabriel Chanel herself. In true Chanel fashion, it was unique, forward thinking, and much like her couture, had a far-reaching impact on the world of fashion and jewelry. In creating Bijoux de Diamants, Chanel applied many of the same principles that made her so celebrated in the world of fashion. Her work symbolized freedom — of expression, of movement, and of choice. Tired of gloom, the collection looked to the heavens for inspiration. Stars and constellations would adorn the body. These pieces could be mixed and matched, giving the wearer the freedom to choose while being easy to wear and, of course, stunning to see. As with all things Chanel, the collection was launched with great thought. Displayed November 7 through 19, 1932, with a two-day private showing beginning on the 5th — a very important number in Chanel lore — the exhibition at her townhouse at 29 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré featured elegant invitations, donations to important cultural institutions, and a guest list that included Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Gloria Swanson, and members of the Ballets Russes. Of course, any collection is only as good as the work shown. The 50 pieces were designed with diamonds set in precious metals with supple, open construction that made them eminently wearable and transformable. The focus was on the silhouette, balance, and simplicity, and the collection looked toward the stars for inspiration. Some 90 years later, Chanel is launching the 1932 collection to celebrate its heritage and honor the past. Focusing on celestial bodies, the collection sets the comet, moon, and sun into motion, using blue sapphires, yellow diamonds, opals, rubies, and spinels to represent the cosmos and impart a sense of movement. The pieces flow gracefully along the body, much as the originals once did. See the collection as well as rare historical artifacts at de DIAMANTS 34

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