From Russia with Love

Татьяна (русская душою,
Сама не зная почему)
С её холодною красою
Любила русскую зиму,
На солнце иней в день морозный,
И сани, и зарёю поздной
Сиянье розовых снегов,
И мглу крещенских вечеров.

Tatyana, (to her heart’s core a Russian,
Herself not knowing the reason why),
With all their cold and frigid beauty,
Loved Russian winters with great passion:
The sun-lit hoar-frost on frozen days,
Sledge rides, and from the sunset’s glow
The rosy radiance on the snow;
The foggy nights of Epiphany.

(Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr S. Puškin, chapter V, stanza 4)

This novel in verse, written by Aleksandr S. Puškin and published in complete edition in 1833, is just one of the masterpieces of Russian literature, but in my opinion is the best work about the contrast between fiction and real life. The novel is packed with literary references, and its protagonist, the dandy Eugene Onegin, looks like a collage of different literary heroes (according to Tatyana, the wonderful, romantic and bookish heroine). Though influenced by European culture and trends, the novel beautifully speaks about Russian folklore [1] and landscape, thus emphasizing the complex character of this fascinating country.

I don’t know if Karl Lagerfeld has ever read Eugene Onegin (I suppose he has), but the work by Puškin and its lovely heroine immediately came to my mind when I knew about the Chanel Paris-Moscou collection (pre-fall 2008/2009). The main source of inspiration is of course the Russian Revolution, the Romanov Czars, but also the Ballets Russes and the flirtation Coco Chanel had with the Russian-Parisian society in the 1910s and 1920s, not to mention her affair with the Grand Duke Dmitrij Pavlovič Romanov.

I must admit I have mixed feeling towards this collection – the clothes are nice but not stunning, the bag and shoe collection are overloaded with decorations (not in my style), but the costume jewellery collection is lovely, with some really interesting pieces.


The Matryoshka doll [2] is one of the most recognizable and famous symbols of Russian culture, and for this reason it was chosen as decorations for some pieces of the collection. A tiny Matryoshka doll in plexi and strass is the pendant of the long necklace with black pearls and of a pair of earrings.


The lace bow brooch and bracelet could have come from the legendary jewellery collection of the Romanov dinasty and would have been perfect on Tatyana Larina.


The three brooches above have different sources of inspiration – Byzantine art for the first on the left, with resin cabochon stones and freshwater pearls, the symbols of the Revolution for the second one, in resin and metal, and the symbol of the Romanov dinasty (the double-head eagle) for the third.


Pearl earrings are a classic piece in Chanel costume jewellery collections: the first pair has round pearls “closed” by gold metal and rhinestones, the second one has oval pearls with double Cs.


Double Cs can be found in these earrings – a pair in metal, pearls and resin flowers, and a pair in enamel and metal.


The amazing headpieces, in rhinestones and pearls, seen on the Russian models on the runway, are not included in the collection, but they further emphasize the complex imagery of the collection.


The collection includes three outstanding pieces (a cuff bracelet, a long pearl necklace and a signature brooch). My favourite is the cuff bracelet, adorned with cabochon stones, freshwater pearls, enamel and rhinestones; it is lined in quilted satin (an incredibly chic touch, isn’t it?).


Even if I usually write about Chanel costume jewellery, I cannot leave out the most original piece of the bag collection, which could be seen as a piece of jewellery: the now infamous Matryoshka doll enamel bracelet bag, seen on Lily Allen. The first time I saw it, I immediately fell for it: I think it’s so original and funny. Lily is the perfect model [3] for this bag, but I wouldn’t be bad either!

[1] I studied Russian at university for three years, I’ve read tons of Russian novels but Eugene Onegin has become my favourite work. Reading it in Russian is an amazing experience! One of the most fascinating parts (in chapter V, stanzas 5-21) speak about Tatyana’s superstitions and dreams, based on Russian folklore.

[2] The concept of nested objects is quite common in Russian culture and art: think of Easter eggs and the marvellous Fabergé eggs.

[3] Have you seen the mediocre campaign for the Coco Cocoon line? I’m so sorry Lily – a gorgeous Chanel testimonial in real life – is the protagonist of a dull campaign and that the bag line is so un-Chanel (puffy bags, Karl? Is that a joke?).

Source, source and source.


  1. I like Lily’s coat…

    I read an article Lily wrote on ES Magazine about her safari experience in South Africa. Having been recently there I could identify with her impressions, which made her very much a next-door-girl, until I read that her lodge cost £1500 per person per night… And when I see her wearing these unique pieces, she instantly become a goddess…

    P.S. I like her music but I think she is too girlish.

    1. I think she’s like any other ordinary girl…with a lot of money! I don’t think she acts like a diva, but she likes living a good life (like anyone else who has lots of money, I guess). I like her music too, and I also love her style. She’s the perfect Karl’s doll, because she looks so good in Chanel, but I also liked her when she wore prom dresses and sneakers.

  2. I didn’t know about this huge Russia-inspired Chanel thing… and I’m feeling rather suspicious. it looks like a giant WINK WINK to the bottomless pockets of lots of wealthy russian new riches… and the fact that the collection is dull adds to my suspicion (the brand is enough). the ribbon bracelet is awesome though… and I saw some stunning ads with Lily Allen. I personally think she looks like a guinea pig, but they managed to clean her up for the campaign… and she wears the most beautiful tiara! so I don’t know… what’s going on with uncle Karl!?

    1. Oh, you’re right, but I guess the wealthy Russian nouveau riches spend large amounts of money on Chanel the same. This is quite a bland collection, this is true, but I think there are a lot of interesting references.
      The ads with Lily are hideous, in my opinion. She looks good, but the bags she’s advertising are far from being appealing. Uhm, I guess Uncle Karl didn’t put much effort in this :/ I love love love the Resort 2009 collection, though, very Death in Venice 😉

  3. The sadest thing about Lily allen is that, before getting famous and going around with Kate moss, she was chubby.
    Soon after some magazine’s cover, she become skinny and smooth.

    Btw, great review. I love Chanel soooo much.

    1. That’s the business behind entertainment, honey. With a very few exceptions, image is what matters, and a chubby singer is not supposed to become famous. I remember she had issues with her weight (she wrote it in her MySpace, causing quite a stir in the media), I don’t know if she even suffered from bulimia. All this story is quite desolating :/

  4. Ciao!,
    non voglio parlare del marchio che Chanel è diventato,ci sarebbe molto da discutere,ma trovo comunque notevoli,mirabolanti i pezzi di…”gioielleria” della pre fall 2009.

    Due parole invece sulla Signorina Allen testimonial Chanel(anche se hai già detto tutto tu…),cos’èèèè?,un triste tentativo di trasformare una sbagliatissima testimonial ?,che poi forse sbagliata nn è vista l’assoluto disgusto che provocano in me quelle borse…voglio far finta che la collezione Coco cocoon non esista,secondo me quelle borse hanno tutte le caratteristiche che una borsa Chanel nn dovrebbe avere.Orrore.

    p.s.Ho comprato il fluidline Mac come da tuo gentile consiglio,continuo ad allenarmi…

    1. Sono convinta che qualche studioso (magari un economista, chissà) abbia approfondito la questione, perchè il caso Chanel è complesso e ha molte implicazioni socio-culturali che non possono passare inosservate. Mi sembra interessante, ad esempio, come Karl Lagerfeld si procacci le testimonial vip delle sue campagne, prima plasmandole secondo canoni estetici precisi (ci è riuscito con Diane Kruger e con Rinko Kikuchi, per dire, che sono due donne completamente diverse) e poi facendole diventare il volto della maison. Per fortuna che il trucco non gli è riuscito con Lindsay Lohan ;P Sono d’accordo sul fingere che la collezione Coco Cocoon non esista, ma – ripeto – mi dispiace per Lily perchè nessuno si merita di fare da testimonial a borse così brutte e perchè lei, secondo me, ha un ottimo potenziale!

      PS: come ti stai trovando con il Fluidline?

  5. Fluidline è un ottimo prodotto,è modulabile,esiste in splendidi colori (io ho però comprato il classico nero),ma pur essendo ottimo non può risolvere i miei persistenti problemi di…stabilità! (in sintesi sembra che mi trucco in barca con il mare forza 8),ma continuerò ad allenarmi,non mi arrendo pretendo precisione assoluta.
    Il problema più gravoso è la rimozione del prodotto,hai qualche segreto da rivelarmi? tu cosa usi?.

    p.s.Se ti interessano prodotti Mac ed hai il punto vendita lontano,pare che il negozio di Milano Via fiori chiari dove vado solitamente,prenda anche ordini telefonici con consegna tramite corriere.


    1. I problemi di “stabilità” si risolvono solo con la pratica e l’esercizio, quindi vedrai che è solo questione di tempo 😉 Per togliere il Liquidlast, che è in assoluto l’eye liner più resistente di MAC, uso l’Olio Indiano Vian, ma un qualsiasi prodotto a base di olio funziona.
      Il punto vendita MAC più vicino è a Venezia, all’interno della Coin; ci si mette un’oretta da dove abito io, ma un paio di volte all’anno un giretto lo faccio. Grazie per il consiglio, comunque: prima o poi approfitterò di questa possibilità 🙂

    1. Sorry but I have no idea.

      The collection was a limited edition, though, so I don’t think you are able to still find it for sale.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s