I was quite worried when I read, some weeks ago, of the possible departure of Karl Lagerfeld from Chanel. The rumour – thank God – has been dismissed by the Parisian maison, but it gave me the chance to think about a future for Chanel without him. Nowadays there are lots of young, talented and ambitious designers who would do anything to sit at Chanel’s helm, but I think no-one of them would outsmart what Lagerfeld has done in twenty-six years there. Being a true Reinassance man (he is the creative director of his own label, of Chanel and Fendi, he owns a bookstore in Paris, he is a renowned photographer and art collector), he loves culture in all its forms, and he turns everything into art. Just think of his work at Chanel: he has designed lots of collection without losing the connection with the past; he has endlessly re-worked the infamous symbols of Chanel (the tweed suit, the bow, the camellia, the quilted fabric, the cap-toe pumps, just to name a few) with a young, fresh and funny spirit. The ‘toys’ I’m referring to in the title are the accessories (costume jewellery, small bags, gloves and belts) he has designed with a playful intention, and this is what has made Chanel a fashion-forward brand, coveted by anybody (the very young included).
The Spring/Summer 2004 collection’s accessories were awesome, most of them ispired to the world of music: the round bag is a sequined LP, the square black box clutch has the shape of a tape, seen on the white cuff bracelet as well. The small colourful bag is pure genius, inspired to a Rubik’s cube.
The Fall/Winter 2004 collection had accessories and costume jewellery based on Chanel’s complex imagery – the aforesaid symbols and cosmetics. Chanel n°5 tiny bottles become the charms on earrings (seen on Isabeli Fontana), while lipsticks and quadra eyeshadows are charms for the chain-and-pearl necklace. Take a look at the lovely clear bag with round handle, inspired to the shape of Chanel body cream box.
Chains and coins often recur in Chanel collections: they both can be seen in the multi-strand charm necklace on Liya Kebede and on the gold belt in the picture above. The box clutch is presented in a bigger version: this one seems to have a powder-puff inside. In the pictures we can also see a weird book-shaped clutch and a multi-strand clear necklace with Malta cross-shaped ornament.
The Spring/Summer 2005 collection presented some interesting accessories, as Lagerfeld’s trademark gloves in different versions – short in black leather with pearl trim, short in dove grey leather with fringed trim. The stacked bracelets have several shapes and are made of clear plastic with rhinestones. The white silk camellia and a black bow are a lovely hair ornament on Caroline Trentini’s head.
Silk camellias and flowers are pinned on the models’ hair, a simple and chic ornament. The same can be said of the pearl-shaped bags; I think these are genius, too: one of Chanel’s most famous symbols becomes gigantic and is turned into a bag. The white one was seen on Hilary Swank at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
The Fall/Winter 2006 collection is one of the best in Chanel history, in my opinion, for its Victorian/goth vibe. I’ve always been drooling over those amazing lace fingerless gloves, worn on lace and chiffon long dresses. The costume jewellery in this collection is based on the contrast black/white (the charms of the necklace and the stones in the cuff bracelet), with touches of gold and bronze. I also love the fingerless leather gloves, seen on the white-tweed-clad model, who is wearing a pearl-and-chain belt and necklaces. Black and white stripes characterize the belt with round buckle and the necklace with round, rectangular and double-C-shaped charms; black stones and white pearls decorate the brooch and the big cuff link on the white cuff, turned into a bracelet.
A more contemporary and minimal spirit distinguished the Fall/Winter 2007 collection. The plexiglas collar necklace is the symbol of the collection, beautiful in its naked simplicity. The rest of the costume jewellery tries to keep things simple as well: just think the classic pearl necklace becomes a head-piece.
Coco Chanel drew lots of inspiration from stars and the firmament, and Karl Lagerfeld paid homage to this source in the Spring/Summer 2008 collection. Stars are printed on silk jumpsuits and dresses, but also characterize the costume jewellery seen on the runway. Funny pieces are the golf ball-shaped bag, the pearl necklace with enamel charms and the rhinestone bow bracelet.
The costume jewellery and accessories in the Fall/Winter 2008 were very simple. The most notable pieces are brooches with pearls and semi-precious stones, seen on shirts, dresses and berets , but wool headbands (seen on Ashley Olsen) and antique gold glasses are interesting as well. The lace fingerless gloves return in this collection, while a futuristic oval clutch is introduced.
The Fall/Winter 2009 collection is absolutely stunning for its refined, Art Deco-inspired jewellery and for the lovely details of the clothes. Big organza pleated collars and cuffs are on almost any outfit, fastened with satin ribbons. Malta cross-shaped brooches and black, green and pastel pink amazing rings are the most notable pieces of costume jewellery. The jade nail polish seen on models will be released in October, I’m so looking forward to seeing it in person.
Chanel Haute Couture collection never include big accessories or costume jewellery, because the focus is on dresses, but some interesting pieces can be found in these collections, too. In the Spring 2005 collection, for example, ceramic and fabric flowers ornate brooches (pinned on satin ribbons and worn as chokers) and bracelets; satin ribbons, on the other hand, are the only ornament on the models’ hair. Quirky accessories are the feather cap and the tulle fingerless gloves.
I think the Fall 2006 collection has been quite underrated. I love it because Lagerfeld gave new life to denim (he turned this common fabric into something precious), introduced elegant shapes and lots of long gloves! What I love are also the stunning hair ornaments – rhinestone-studded round pins or simple pearls in the hair parting.
The hair ornaments pinned on the models’ buns and headpieces in the Spring 2008 collection are so poetic and romantic. They have different shapes but are all made of colourful rhinestones and pearls. I think they make nice hairstyles absolutely perfect.
At the moment I don’t own any Chanel costume jewellery piece (but I own a gorgeous silk scarf from the 90s, with a chain-and-ribbon motif on it), but I’d really love to wear a Chanel cuff bracelet: cuffs are my favourite jewellery pieces and Chanel always makes awesome items of this kind.
 The exact combo beret/brooch was seen on Beyonce Knowles.