Chanel: a route to new jewellery horizons in the Flying Cloud collection

At Paris Haute Couture week this year, Chanel presented its new high jewellery collection Flying Cloud, named in honour of the eponymous yacht frequented by Mademoiselle Chanel herself. The deluxe vessel, which belonged to Hugh Grosvenor, the 2nd Duke of Westminster and one of the leading men in the life of Chanel, has now been immortalised in these 55 exquisite pieces.

Flying Cloud is not just four masts, a black prow, white decks and a crew of 40 people. It was a place for nautical and life-changing journeys. Sometimes quiet and peaceful, sometimes violent and stormy. But always luxurious in the extreme! “Luxury is a necessity that begins where necessity ends” was a saying favoured by Gabrielle Chanel. This ambiguity is intrinsic to the collection itself, with one portion of the pieces dedicated to seafaring objects, the other to the Riviera lifestyle.

The pleasing curves of the anchors and buoys, the sharp profile of the snow-white sails and the wiry network of powerful cables, pole stars, compasses, lighthouses, and prevailing winds all nominally constitute the first chapter of the collection. These shapes have been meticulously reimagined but are nonetheless still manifest in the jewels which are essentially crafted from the highest quality diamonds, different shades of blue sapphires, lapis lazuli, and of course perfectly snow white cultured pearls that are a Chanel favourite. It is precisely these colours that are closely associated with maritime themes and create the very best contrast with sun-tanned skin, something which, by her own admission, Mademoiselle Chanel found simply entrancing.

The second chapter comprises variations on the theme of the classic summer wardrobe, its freedom and simplicity. Here you have stripy sailor suits, gold braiding and navy jacket buttons. The white and blue stripes of quadratic sapphires with their polished surfaces dissect the diamond pavé surface of the Summer Cruise brooches, necklaces and bracelets. These are also adorned with a coquettish decorative element  shaped like a golden button clasp with a yellow diamond in its centre. In the pattern of the chains of the asymmetric Sapphire Stripes necklace, a twisted harness is unmistakably visible, pinned with a finely coloured teardrop sapphire.

"Sparkling Lines" necklace from "Flying Cloud" collection in 18K white gold set with 49 round-cut diamonds and 2823 brilliant-cut diamonds

In the collection’s pride of place are two unique necklaces with virtuoso designs: the Turquoise Water collar necklace made of white gold, multi-coloured and multi-shaped sapphires, as well as diamonds (the central pear-cut stone weighs 2.58 carats) and the long Endless Knot necklace made of white gold and diamonds (the central round-cut stone of which weighs 3.51 carats). The first evokes the atmosphere of the limitless and enigmatic sea, awash with all the shades of blue; the other demonstrates the jewellery designers’ attempts to tie their version of a gemstone nautical knot.

 One of the trends that came through during fashion week was the use of unusual jewellery materials in crafting high jewellery. Designers at Chanel did not let that trend go unnoticed, creating a substantial Sailor’s Tattoo bracelet made of titanium, diamonds and sapphires. It attracted the attention of the majority of those visiting the display due to its significant size, easily covering the entire wrist, and its complex pattern of comets flying around an anchor. It even earned a starry reputation on Instagram.

According to the traditions of jewellery craftsmanship, Flying Cloud could not have been numbered amongst the ranks of the best high jewellery collections had it not included jewellery with big stones. A chic cushion-cut sapphire weighing 11.49 carats adorned the Azurean Braid ring; a diamond weighing 12.83 carats was made the central design element on the Endless Knot ring; and the Yauching Day ring, with its colourless round stone weighing 18.03 carats was the real surprise: it was decorated not with a diamond (as most people would be likely to think on being shown it at first glance), but with a colourless sapphire.

 The sea, yachts, Chanel… All hands on deck and steer the course to new jewellery horizons!

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