The Inspiration behind Today’s Fashion Silver Jewellery: Coco Chanel
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel is quoted as having said: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”. Certainly, she did her part to help us get there.
Despite humble beginnings personally and professionally, “Chanel” soon went from being the name of a diminutive milliner selling her wares from a small shop to being the name of one of the most famous design houses in fashion. Besides making hats, dresses, suits, and trousers, Coco Chanel designed handbags, belts, perfume and - most important, from our perspective - jewellery.
Ultimately, Chanel became quite a wealthy woman, and possessed more than a little of her own gold and silver jewellery. However, she didn’t believe a woman should flaunt her wealth by wearing expensive gemstones and metals. Rather, she believed that every woman, rich or poor, deserved to look divine - and she set about making that possible by creating, and popularizing, what we today call “fashion” or “costume” jewellery.
Such jewellery is made from quality materials that are not necessarily expensive - such as silver, cultured pearls, zircons, and even high-quality wood and enamel. In addition to designing costume silver jewellery, she herself wore such silver jewellery day and night, rather than airing her more expensive pieces.
By doing so, she gave all women the legitimate right to demand good-quality, affordable silver jewellery that could be worn every day. Moreover, she brought fashion silver jewellery to a new level of creativity - and respectability. Pre-Coco there had been little, if any, interesting fashion silver jewellery, and what there was of it was reserved for those who could not afford anything else. Post-Coco, all women have access to intriguing, fanciful, daring, exotic, classy and timeless silver jewellery.
Chanel herself was inspired, in creating her gold-filled and silver jewellery designs, by the Romanov jewels and jewellery of the Renaissance and Byzantine periods. But she was also inspired by more everyday items, such as buttons and chains, and the epaulets of military uniforms. In particular, Chanel was inspired by pearls - and created cultured and even fake pearls in all sizes and colours.
She also created gold and silver jewellery using colourful, translucent gemstones such as the aquamarine, topaz and amethyst, and was amongst the first designers to create silver jewellery using crystals. Just look at her in her heyday and you’ll see a classy woman festooned in fashion gems and silver jewellery, who looks all the richer for having such simple, wise taste. Truly an inspiration!
Coco Chanel did women of all ages, classes and tastes an immense service, by severing forever the ties between wealth and quality silver jewellery.