“Elegance is line,” said Gabrielle Coco Chanel, so it is little wonder that the quilted matelassÃ© pattern would become synonymous with the fashion house that she founded.
When envisaging the matelassÃ© effect, Chanel took her cues from the equestrian world, in particular the jackets worn by stable boys around racecourses. When stitched, the pattern lent volume and solidity to more lissom materials such as jersey, lambskin and silk, and it became a cornerstone of the Chanel aesthetic, most famously in the case of the iconic 2.55 bag.
Over the years, the quilted effect has made an appearance on most elements in the Chanel portfolio, from handbags and shoes to clothes, small leather goods and even sunglasses. But it has only just made its debut on the brand’s fine-jewellery creations.
Chanel‘s latest fine-jewellery collection, Signature de Chanel, features 48 pieces, all defined by their geometry. They offer a new variation on the matelassÃ© pattern – multiplying to create a web that spreads across chunky cuffs set with white diamonds or glistening pearls, or set in isolation in oversized square rings and stud earrings.
In transferring the matelassÃ© onto jewellery, the Chanel high-jewellery team had to apply an effect predominantly used on softer-than-soft fabrics onto much tougher materials. “In high jewellery, you work with hard materials, gold and stones, so the technical challenge lies both in the ability to express the formidable creativity of the 48 designs produced by our in-house creation studio, and in finding the right techniques to also respect our key values of freedom, wearability, lightness and fluidity,” explains Benjamin Comar, international fine-jewellery director at Chanel.
“This collection pushes the limits of expertise. The curved square shape, in particular, turned out to be a real technical challenge to produce, with rounded lines that create openwork between the adjacent squares, requiring reduced bezels, exceedingly fine metalwork and sleeve connections to better reveal the stone, while at the same time emphasising the outlines of the shape, and achieving exceptional flexibility.”
One of the highlights of the collection is the sweeping Signature de Saphir necklace, which extends into five strands of brilliant-cut diamonds, punctuated by a single 21-carat untreated Ceylon sapphire. The Signature Ultime Saphirs bracelet, meanwhile, consists of 265 sapphires mounted in an invisible setting. “The crafting of this bracelet took five months, to which you have to add the individual recutting of each sapphire,” Comar explains.
But for us, it is the simple combination of 18-carat white gold, brilliant-cut diamonds and carved mother-of-pearl in the Signature de Nacre cuff that best captures the simple but striking nature of Gabrielle’s much-loved matelassÃ©.
Read this and related stories in Luxury magazine’s Watches & Jewellery issue, out with The National on Thursday, April 14.
Source: art & life