France, under the influence of Louis XIV, became enthralled with Asian imports, the 18th century emerging as an age of Chinoiserie, French culture conjuring romantic notions of these mythical objects from places afar. The Coromandel screens — of Chinese creation by way of India’s Coromandel coast — were in the highest demand.
For Gabrielle Chanel, who was introduced to the screens by her love, Boy Capel, they become an endless source of inspiration.
“Gabrielle Chanel lived in a lacquered box where sailing ships, palaces, flowers and birds, in flashes of gold and deep red, stood out against the darkness of the night. ‘I’m like a snail,’ Coco told writer Claude Delay, the author of several biographies of Coco Chanel. “I carry my house with me…
The horizontal narrative of the screens builds, punctuated only by vertical panels. Each scene is a profusion of detail surrounded by a border, a visual frieze consistent in all Coromandel screens, and a theme thoughtfully incorporated into the high jewelry collection they have inspired.
A tension emerges and creates a story within a frame. This influence is echoed in the high jewelry collection, both the screens and the pieces embody a paradox, a concept beloved by Mademoiselle Chanel.
“When I look at this screen in the evening, I see doors opening and horsemen going out riding.” – Gabrielle Chanel
THE APARTMENT ON RUE CAMBON WAS GABRIELLE’S PRIVATE PLACE TO DREAM.
While she would never go to Asia in her lifetime, never experience the culture that birthed these beloved objects, perhaps she made that journey in her imagination, there, on the couch of the apartment, amongst her collection of Coromandel screens.
In each section, commented whitewall.art, we see stunning themed creations reworked and dotted with diamonds and gemstones. “The floral theme shines with a reversible cuff bracelet that encompasses the geometric structures of the screen, including a pivoting yellow diamond. The animal theme shows birds from the screen, and a piece catching attention for its diamond ring of over ten carats. And the mineral theme features a yellow gold plastron necklace with clouds of mother-of-pearl and diamond details surrounding a six-carat diamond at its center,” added whitewall.art.
“Sophisticated and elegant, the collection, of which 29 pieces are one-of-a-kind, features intricately crafted necklaces, high-octane rings, four jeweled watches and a rare addition of delicate brooches,” wrote en.worldtempus.com. “While mostly monochromatic, eight pieces in the collection, including a watch, dazzle the eye, some with the fire of yellow and brown diamonds, others with rubies and red spinels, and varying shades of green emeralds, tourmalines and tsavorites. ”
The Coromandel has inspired the haute couture of Karl Lagerfeld, a heady, amber-infused fragrance by Jacques Polge, and most recently, this collection by the jewelry Studio de Création, each interpretation further weaving these mythic screens ever more deeply into house legend.