- Coco’s diamond designs were set to be on show in 1932 but were not allowed by stringent customs officials
- Stunning bracelets, necklaces and brooches were shown in Paris as the Bijoux de Diamants collection
- Mademoiselle Prive exhibition includes her designs, Karl Lagerfeld’s work at Chanel and his photos of the icon
- Fashion homage opens at The Saatchi Gallery in Chelse from October 13 to November 1
An exhibition of Coco Chanel’s only collection of jewellery has been given its British debut, 83 years after the diamond-encrusted pieces were designed.
Only a few pieces remain from the original Bijoux de Diamants High Jewellery collection which was first set to be displayed in London in 1932 but was stopped due to stringent British customs regulations.
But the dramatic pendant necklaces, brooches and coil bracelets will be the star attraction at Mademoiselle Prive exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, in Chelsea, decades after they wowed Paris society for their style and innovation.
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Karl Lagerfeld’s designs from the couture show in July are on display at the Saatchi Gallery, in west London
Coco Chanel’s Bijoux de Diamants High Jewellery collection is reissued by Chanel and on display in the exhibit
The jewellery was created at a time when the established jewellery houses were perturbed by the thought of a fashion house designing diamonds.
When she displayed the baubles in Paris in 1932, Coco placed them on wax busts rather than in trays, as was traditional.
Coco’s designs use star and bow motifs while one show-stopping piece has a chandelier-style drop down to the navel. She was often inspired by celestial motifs and once told a French newspaper: ‘I wanted to cover women with constellations. Stars! Stars of all sizes.’
It is also said to be linked to the abbey in Aubazine where she was sent in 1895 as the corridor along which she would walk was paved with crescent moons, five-pointed stars, and Templar symbols.
The designer was typically ground-breaking in her approach to jewellery, and according to Elle, told French magazine L’illustration, ‘I have a horror of clasps. Yet my jewellery pieces can be reassembled. See this necklace; you can instantly make it into three bracelets and a brooch.’
The immersive show at the Saatchi is named after the sign that the legendary designer, who was born Gabrielle Chanel in 1883 and died in 1971, hung on her door.
Only a few pieces remained of the jewellery which was initially meant to be on show in London in 1932 but was banned by customs
The pieces are now on display 83 years later and contain plenty of star and bow motifs in necklaces, bracelets and brooches
An outfit from the couture collection references 1980s style with broad shoulders and metallics with the show-stopping necklace
Arrayed over three floors, it also charts the progression of Chanel under the fashion icon to its current creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who has been at the label since 1983.
The show tracks the creativity of both Coco and Lagerfeld, who took over the helm 12 years after the couturiere’s death.
Coco once said diamonds represented ‘the greatest value in the smallest volume’ and the diamonds are displayed on mannequins dressed as ‘gamblers’ from Chanel’s couture show in July 2015.
For the show staged in The Grand Palais, in Paris, was transformed into a grand casino, with slot machines luxurious chairs surrounding the blackjack and roulette tables.
The couture pieces were shown in July at the Champs-Elysees with a casino theme to the show set with blackjack and roulette tables
The walls are lined with photographs of stars in Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld’s designs taking central stage
Many of the clothes from the collection have a 1920s feels with plenty of beading and some feather detailing on dresses, while other pieces had a nod to the 1980s, with strong shoulders and low-cut necklines.
Mademoiselle Prive also captures Coco’s personality and traces her roots through time.
Coco’s Rue Cambon apartment is seen through an app used in a plain room and the places most important to the designer are all included, from Venice to Scotland and her first hat shop in Deauville.
The designs are exhibited on poles of light to show the intricate detailing on this bejewelled dress, right, and layered dress, left
A caped dress is paired with a crescent moon brooch of Coco Chanel’s design, left, and a metallic suit with a thigh-skimming split, right
The walls are adorned with portraits of Lagerfelds’ muses including Keira Knightley, Lily Collins and Vanessa Paradis
Even the entrance to the gallery for the joint exhibition with Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld is reimagined with an English country garden in its place, created by British landscape designers Harry and David Rich.
The exhibition also includes a sensory treat in a room which shows artisans blending the house’s famous scent and has vats bubbling away with the different smells.
Karl Lagerfeld’s portraits of the stars which have been his muses line the walls of one corridor and include huge names like Keira Knightley, Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Rita Ora and Lara Stone.
The exhibition takes over all three floors of the Saatchi Gallery and includes her legendary pieces including The Comète necklace (right), in the shape of a shooting star wrapping around the neck, created by Coco Chanel for her 1932 Bijoux de Diamants exhibition
The show documents Coco’s home, her first shop and the places she loved as well as sources of her inspiration
Coco’s diamonds were designed at a time when it was not the norm for fashion houses to design jewellery and this worried jewellers
The perfume process is seen and smelled in a sensory room, left, and details like this jewelled cigarette holder, right, can be seen up close
The clothes are displayed on poles of light rather than mannequins to showcase the embroidery and intricate details of each item.
Workshops will also be hosted by Chanel artisans to teach some of the traditional skills used to create such works of art.
The exhibition which starts on October 13 will run until November 1, seven days a week, and admission is free.
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