Let the Lion Roar

Even if the fashion calendar is always months ahead (the 2011/2012 Fall/Winter collections are currently shown in Paris), in the real world spring is starting to send her first signs: even if it’s still very cold, sunny days and starry nights make us believe the new season this way comes. A new season means new, exciting costume jewellery from Chanel, so here is the most notable pieces from the Spring/Summer 2011 pre-collection.

If you remember the impressive setting of the Haute Couture Fall 2010 fashion show, held at the Grand Palais in Paris in July 2010, you’ll surely have memory of the gigantic gold lion at the center of the round stage. The huge statue, a reference to Mademoiselle Coco’s star sign [1], held a pearl under its paw, thus reaffirming the timeless heritage of the Parisian maison. The animal was among the main sources of reference for the said costume jewellery collection.

Fringes, pearls and tiny double C charms: hese Chanel symbols can be found in the pieces above – a long metal necklace embellished with lions, glass pearls and delicate chains and a lion metal brooch embellished with a glass pearl and chains. The necklace is pretty, but the brooch doesn’t convince me much.

The lion has inspired the metal ring above, embellished with a glass pearl and metal chains, and the metal bangle in turquoise, blue or black resin. I’m not a ring-wearer, but the lion ring is a bit trashy, don’t you agree?

In some pieces, the lion inspiration is subtler, like in the metal chain necklace embellished with strass and glass pearls. Here, the lion is only a flat ornament, well balanced with metal chains and pearls. The strass double C in the necklace is also available as a metal brooch, embellished with oval-cut strass and glass pearls.

The sautoir – long pearl necklace – has always been a trademark of Chanel, and it’s incredible to see how many variations such an iconic piece can have. This collection includes a metal piece embellished with black and white glass pearls, double C and strass. The same colour pattern can be found in the metal and resin baroque bangles embellished with glass pearls.

Awww, I love these two pieces, characterized by a clear Byzantine vibe [2]: the fancy belt is made of metal and resin, embellished with glass pearls, while the metal necklace is embellished with a Verdura-inspired cross pendant of strass and glass pearl cabochons. Fulco Santo Stefano della Cerda, duke of Verdura, was a Sicilian-born socialite turned jewellery designer, who worked with Coco in the 30’s: the most notable result of their collaboration was the infamous Maltese cross cuffs, which Coco never parted with, wearing them day and night. The Maltese cross has eight points, four arms of equal lenght, and is the symbol of an order of Christian warriors, the Knights of Malta. Besides Chanel, Kenneth Jay Lane has designed several cuffs inspired to the original Verdura ones; the Verdura brand, recently revived, still produces the original Fulco cuff, along with some gorgeous variations.

Different sizes of glass pearls as charms embellish this classic metal bracelet, decorated by a big double C in gold metal.

The collection includes two exceptional pieces – a enameled metal cuff bracelet embellished with a golden lion, glass pearls and multiple chains, and a gorgeous hand-enameled metal baroque cuff bracelet with glass pearls. There’s too much going on in the first one for my liking, but the second is just perfect.

What do you think of this lion and Byzantine-inspired collection? Which is your favourite piece?

[1] An alabaster statue of a lion, holding its paw on a sphere, can be found in Coco’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon.

[2] It’s not coincidental that the Pre-Fall 2010 collection was called Paris-Byzance, inspired to Coco Chanel’s Byzantine cross-adorned cuffs and to the Byzantine empress Theodora.





  1. My favourites, without any doubts, are the “baroque” bangles, the ones near the sautoir.
    I am very difficult with jewels, meaning that I can wear a massive statement ring one day and then go without anything for weeks, so this might explain my attitude towards some items in this collection, but I find the lion head quite tacky and it screams “metro-goldwin mayer” rather than “Chanel” to me!

  2. I have noticed that in this period are very trendy animals in jewellery and bijoux.
    For example I died for the unfamous deer-ring but the original is too much expensive for my budget.
    Chanel lion-head-ring is amazing, but actually it looks trashy, as you said.

    Out of topic: Following this trend, one mouth ago I bought a funny metal snake ring, studded with deep blue rhinestones, by H&M.
    I’m very proud of it : )

    1. Animalier jewellery has never been out of trend, in my opinion. If you think of the animal-shaped masterpieces by Cartier, for example, you realize they’re still so modern!

      I’ve never fallen for that infamous deer ring, to be honest, because it looks like a weapon, but I love love love snake-shaped rings 🙂 Too bad my fingers are small, so it’s impossible for me to find the exact size.

    1. I don’t know 😦 Lady D wore a kind of lizard-shaped brooch in the 80’s but I cannot think of other celebrities wearing it.

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