How do you celebrate 100 years of the world’s most famous fragrance? With a superbly executed high jewellery collection, of course – which Chanel just debuted in Europe during Paris Fashion Week. Shown at a special event in Place Vendôme, high jewellery’s spiritual home and whose octagonal shape inspired the N°5 bottle itself, the 123-piece collection explored five emblematic facets of the legendary scent: the bottle, the stopper, flowers, the number ‘5’ and the fragrance’s sillage (the trail of scent left in the air when someone leaves the room). The collection offers up a show-stopping new addition to the French fashion house’s range of haute joaillerie.
“I knew about the brand and N°5, but I wanted to go deeper – I wanted to understand everything,” says Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel’s fine jewellery creation studio, who has been with the brand for over a decade. Despite being grounded for the last 18 months (including being forced to miss the collection’s initial launch in Hong Kong this summer), travel has always been a huge part of Leguéreau’s work, and a visit to Chanel’s historic perfumerie in France’s Grasse – which happened to coincide with the jasmine flower harvest – was the first port of call in creating this collection. “I realised how precious the flowers were, as raw materials. It’s the same with jewellery and precious stones.”
Director of Chanel’s Fine Jewellery Creation Studio
Presiding over the collection is the exquisite 55.55 necklace, where more than 700 diamonds are fashioned into a magnificent N°5 bottle, topped with a D Flawless diamond that’s been custom cut into 55.55 carats. The jewel is not for sale and will go straight to the archive (after a worldwide tour, of course), making history as the first time a high jewellery collection has paid homage to a perfume.
The unmistakable geometric bottle is also muse to a host of other suites, from the Sparkling Silhouette – where the bottle’s ethereal lines, set in pink gold and platinum, blend into a cascade of pear and round cut diamonds – to more abstract interpretations, like a splendid yellow gold and platinum ring that sets a 5.55ct yellow diamond atop a medley of white and yellow diamonds.
The N°5 stopper also has a strong cameo. There is the delightful octagonal Bubbly Stopper suite, where small, fine pearls punctuate rings, watches and earrings, while Rock crystal, a Chanel hallmark, gives the collection a cool, modern feel, especially in a super graphic yellow and white gold ring rimmed in black onyx. Elsewhere, the Golden Stopper mismatched earrings in yellow sapphires and diamonds juxtapose a beautiful cascading design with a strong geometric one, embodying the ultra feminine but modern vibe of this collection – and N°5 itself.
Flowers feature heavily, bringing a refreshing range of new florals to the Chanel story that has so far been dominated by the camellia. The hero piece is the ABSOLU N°5 white gold and diamond necklace, the only jewel in the collection that combines all the N°5 florals together – jasmine, ylang ylang and the May Rose. The design also incorporates other symbols beloved by Coco Chanel, something that Leguéreau stumbled upon during his trip to Grasse. “I discovered a very natural connection between the main flowers and the planets,” he recalls. “The five branches of jasmine and the stars, the yellow leaves of ylang ylang and the sun, May Rose and the moon.”
Another symbol dear to Chanel herself was the number 5, and here is where the collection is at its most light-hearted and modern, while still embodying all the elegance of high jewellery. The number is found in cascading earrings, accenting watches and rings, as well as bedecking a standout medallion style ring, while knotted styles add a feminine contrast. Finally, pops of colour come courtesy of the most poetic theme, which evokes the spritz of the scent on the body. The Blushing Sillage suite features a combination of diamonds, rubies, garnets, yellow sapphires, pink and red spinels, and complements the warm tones of Golden Burst, headlined by a yellow gold, platinum and diamond ring topped with an imperial topaz of 22.51cts.
When asked what Chanel N°5 means today, on the occasion of its centenary, Leguéreau replies: “Timeless femininity, preciousness but still contemporary” – which perfectly sums up everything that this historic jewellery collection is about.