On the darkened stage of the Theatre des Champs-Élysées, the precious dancers of Chanel Haute Joaillerie delicately glittered in the darkness, beckoning guests closer. Café Society, the name evoked mythical parties and grandiose gleam. It was the transitional time when high society was on the verge of disappearance but the fame machine had not yet revved up to full throttle. Café Society was the interloper, a melting pot where mismatched elements collided to create the new order. From this, Gabrielle Chanel would rise to become Coco, and her house, the legend it is today. In referencing Café Society for its high jewelry collection, Chanel played on these pivotal instants fueled by the illusion of a void.
The house codes - the camellia, the octagon, quilting, Byzantine opulence and baroque pieces - are destructured to create the new pieces with a 1930s flair. In realization, the ensemble took on a Bauhaus veneer, colors sliding in and out, for example on a set composed of earrings and a necklace, all composed of interlaced circles.
Perspective and three-dimensional play come to reinforce the larger-than-life impression of these stately pieces. Elsewhere, trompe-l'oeil "voids" were created by using flatter colors, like rounds of onyx vanishing in the darkness, leaving the central camellia motif and accompanying diamonds alone to shine.
The "Sunset Necklace", a dazzling white and pink gold articulated plastron set with sapphires and 2,387 diamonds, no less, feels like a metaphor for that time, as its orderly lozenges disintegrate into the colorful front motif, a fractured mosaic whose diversely textured fragments form the house's camellia.
A little further, the Broadway cuff dazzled geometrically, evoking the architectural patterns of the times, lines bringing order.
The whole exercise of "haute" in jewelry is a bid to showcase either the exceptionally rare - ancient stones or ones so large they could have their own gravity field - or sets of smaller ones in such quantities that numbering them feels obscenely irrelevant. If there was one thought to pull away as the dazzling display receded into the yellow lights of the Theatre des Champs-Élysées, it was that this cubist interpretation of house codes brought to light the spirit of playful nonchalance towards these heights of luxury, a distinctive melange of high and (relative) low, that made Coco Chanel the epitome of changing times.