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September 1 2014

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29 posts tagged "Coco Chanel"

In Paris, Cartier Shows Off Its Dazzling History

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Tiara

The exhibition Cartier: Le Style et l’Histoire opens tomorrow in the freshly restored Salon d’Honneur at the Grand Palais in Paris, and to say it’s dazzling would be a gross understatement. Overwhelming is the only fit description for the show’s richness and scope.

Upon entering this low-lit exhibit, the diamonds on which the jeweler built its reputation hit you between the eyes. Slowly spinning on a column is a remarkable display of tiaras worn by such royalty as Princess Marie Bonaparte and American high-society figures including Mary Scott Townsend, whose headpiece prompted one onlooker to comment, “But she wasn’t even royalty!”

Yet however regal Cartier’s origins, the purpose of this 600-piece exhibition is to show its evolution from “jeweler to the kings” to inventor of modern, radical style. Two early twentieth-century examples: the bold graphics of diamonds paired with onyx, and daring to show color combinations that were previously considered in poor taste (think sapphires and emeralds). The idea of shaking up the fine jewelry palette started when Cartier developed close ties with fashion, notably with the original haute couturier, Charles Frederick Worth. It further gathered momentum many years later, when Coco Chanel began mixing Cartier’s wares with semiprecious stones. A Deco evening dress by Jérôme, on loan from the Palais Galliera, adds further texture to an impressive array of everyday objects small and large, from cigarette cases and lighters to opera glasses, handbags, and clocks.

Crocodile

Two cornerstone gems are the 478-carat Sri Lankan sapphire, one of the largest in the world, which once belonged to Queen Marie of Romania, and the Berenice, a carved emerald of Mongol origin, which was mounted into a necklace for the International Exhibition of 1925.

And then there were Cartier’s clients, A-listers all. A rogues’ gallery of Café Society figures, loyal customers, and style-makers begins with major collector Daisy Fellowes, whose favorite tutti-frutti Hindu necklace was renegade in its day, and includes Marjorie Merriweather Post, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, and the original panther client, Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, as well as Barbara Hutton (who preferred tigers). Special displays pay tribute to Maria Félix, who is said to have brought live baby crocodiles into the Cartier shop to illustrate her commission. The jeweled result is on display.

Also shown are more familiar pieces, such as the Halo tiara, which the Duchess of Cambridge wore on her wedding day in 2011. The crown was originally commissioned in 1936 by the Duke of York, the future King George IV of England. So opulent is Cartier’s display that, by the time you catch Grace Kelly’s practically perfect 10.47-carat diamond engagement ring, it seems like the most demure piece in the world.

Photo: Courtesy of Cartier

Marc Jacobs Turns Back the Clock

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Vuitton clock

What’s old is new, according to Marc Jacobs. Today, WWD ran a lengthy interview with the designer about his departure from Vuitton and his plans to take his own company public. But amid questions about Jacobs’ future, Bridget Foley inquired why, at his final show for Vuitton in Paris, did he decide to make the clock on his set run backward? “That was a very last-minute decision. I thought of Vivienne Westwood and World’s End. The clock in front of World’s End, the punk store on King’s Road, ran backwards,” explained Jacobs. “This was my cynical comment on everything that I had read from people like Cathy Horyn about what was new,” he continued. “I had just been so fed up with hearing what’s new and what’s modern and all that stuff. One has to define what new is…. And then I went back to that Chanel quote, “Only those with no memory insist on their originality.” So this thing of, like, there’s nothing wrong with looking back. Looking back creates something new, which is exactly what I felt we did…we made a new collection for Louis Vuitton by looking back.” Sometimes, you’ve just gotta turn back time to find the way.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo/ Indigitalimages.com

The Allure of Chanel, As Illustrated By Karl

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Allure of ChanelCoco Chanel once said, “Fashion should be discussed enthusiastically, and sanely, and, above all, without poetry, without literature.” With his latest creative effort, Karl Lagerfeld sets out to do just that. The Kaiser has extended his artistic talents to a special illustrated edition of Paul Morand’s The Allure of Chanel, a book that examines the philosophy of the French house by recounting conversations with Mademoiselle Coco herself. The updated version of Morand’s tome, which was originally published in 1976, includes Karl’s sketches of Coco in all her iconic glory—dripping in pearls and impeccably dressed. The good thing is: Unlike Lagerfeld’s Spring ’14 artistic endeavors, this one will fit on our coffee table.

Face Time With Coco Chanel

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Marion Pike and Coco Chanel leaning on the artist's portrait of the designer

On September 5, the London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery will unveil a new exhibition dedicated to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. Curated by LCF professor Amy de la Haye, the show will feature portraits of the designer by the late California artist Marion Pike.

According to the painter’s obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chanel allegedly “refused” to sit for portraits by such luminaries as Pablo Picasso but willingly obliged for her friend Pike. The five canvases on display depict both Chanel’s impeccable taste and tacit intelligence—there’s a sharpness in those eyes, even though the designer first posed for Pike at the age of 84. Chanel also invited Pike to spend seven months observing her work in Paris. Afterward, the artist told the Los Angeles Times, “The atmosphere was frayed nerves, excitement, enthusiasm, frustration, gloom, and energy. It was watching the creation of art in its purest sense.” In her career, Pike also painted Ronald Reagan (that piece made the cover of Time in 1966) and Pope John Paul II.

A number of Chanel-designed couture pieces will complement the expo, courtesy of Pike’s daughter, Jeffie Pike Durham. The show will run until November 16.

Fashion Space Gallery is located at 20 John Princes Street in London.

Photo: Courtesy of Fashion Space Gallery

The Little Black Jacket, Unbuttoned

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For Fall ’13 Karl Lagerfeld showed Chanel‘s classic black jacket in a host of hard-edged iterations—one of which featured X-shaped pockets on the chest. Indeed, Chanel’s little tweed coat has been through a lot since Mme. Coco first presented it in the 1950s. Originally designed to allow ease of movement and comfort, the jacket has been reimagined by Lagerfeld countless times since he took the house’s creative helm in 1983. He’s cropped it, cinched it, dyed it a rainbow of colors, and embellished it with everything from zippers to bows to fringe. However, Lagerfeld (who released a book about the luxe essential last year) seems to always ensure that his interpretations retain the essence of Gabrielle Chanel’s iconic design.

As part of an ongoing retrospective film series that Chanel has been running on its interactive Web site, insidechanel.com, the house has released its fourth historical short. And it explores—what else?—the evolution of the little black jacket. Have a watch and learn why, as Lagerfeld claims, the only things that will always be in style are “jeans, a white shirt, and a Chanel jacket.”