It’s in the White of My Eyes

I’ve explained many times the reasons behind this blog: I am convinced fashion is not only about seasonal trends, glamour and business, because it retains a higher meaning, as it can be considered a mirror of society and an extremely relevant cultural expression. Nowadays, the so-called fashion blogs are everywhere (and for fashion blogs I mean outfit blogs): fashion is only seen as a means of personal expression, which is important but is not the only one. Fashion is history, heritage and culture, even if it’s more easily shared as clothing and accessories. You know I’m not interested in outfit blogs, even if I read and admire many of them, but I prefer giving an insight of what lies behind a ‘simple’ fashion collection or photoshoot.

When it comes to Chanel costume jewellery collections, there are always so many interesting references to other arts and cultures, which why I’ve decided to write about them on a costant basis. As for the upcoming Pre-Fall 2010 collection, China has been chosen by Karl Lagerfeld as primary source of inspiration.

The dragon is one of the most famous symbols of China: according to that tradition, dragons – legendary serpentine creatures – symbolize auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, and floods. It’s not a surprise that such symbol has been used as decorative element in this collection. The dragon cuff bracelet on the left is made of aged-effect metal, while the one on the right is made of enameled metal with glass pearls.

This dragon brooch – in enameled metal with glass pearls – is magnificent.

Another motif coming from Chinese tradition is knotting. Chinese knots come in different shapes – flowers, birds, fish, dragons and butterflies – and are used to ward off evil spirits or as good-luck charms for marriages. There are different pieces in this collection with knots, such as long pendant earrings with fringes and a guilloché metal ring.

Knots can also be found in the enameled metal brooch embossed with plum blossom, adorned with a tassle, and in the pendant necklace adorned with threads and thin chains. I love knots, but I am not crazy of these pieces, definitely not the best part of the collection.

Many Chanel costume jewellery collections include a braided necklace, which is not missing in this case: it comes in metal, embellished by natural stones and diamantè. I don’t like the metal lace cuff bracelet with enamel, because of its intricate decorations and because it apparently doesn’t look like it’s paying homage to any Chinese tradition.

On the contrary, I’m in love with the plexi cuff bracelet engraved with mother-of-pearl Coromandel patterned resin (the same decoration characterizes a matching ring). It’s so beautiful because it combines Chinese crafts [1] (this type of screen was made in Northern China and shipped to Europe from the Coromandel Coast in India) and the history of the maison [2]. You may know that Coco Chanel collected Coromandel folding screens – it is said she owned 32 – and one still adorns her apartment in 31 rue Cambon in Paris.

This adorable Chinese doll clutch in plexiglass, enamel and diamantè, reminds me of the Babushka doll bag from the Paris-Moscou collection.

The fashion show was held on December 3rd in Shanghai, in a location near the Huangpu river: it featured an array of clothing inspired to Chinese fashion history – from the heavily-decorated long dresses in black and China red, to cheongsams, hints to Communist uniforms and Qipao dresses. Some of the most notable pieces were also featured in Paris – Shanghai: a Fantasy, a short movie directed by Lagerfeld in an elegant black and white, a dreamy introduction to the collection itself. Coco Chanel never went to China (hence the ‘Fantasy’ in the title), but had a passion for anything coming from the Far East.

What are your opinions about this collection? Does it grasp a genuine Chinese spirit or not?

[1] According to this technique, the screen was first carved, then painted in gold or other colours and finally coated in dark lacquer.

[2] Chanel has recently produced different items bearing the Coromandel name, such as a make-up palette, a nail polish and a fragrance.

Source and source.

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