(Commercial) Romanticism Can’t Buy Me Love

Spring has officially started: the costume jewellery collection by Chanel has already been presented, but the Parisian maison loves mid-seasons as well, so here is what can be found in the spring/summer 2012 pre-collection, a sort of prelude to the spring/summer collection, a transition from the dark atmospheres of the fall/winter 2011 to a mood which is definitely lighter and more romantic. In such a perspective, long-time symbols of Chanel – camellias and stars – have been used for decorating pieces of this collection.

As usual, the recurring styles are more or less the same: the plexi cuff bracelet, the plexi bangle, the sautoir (very long necklace), pendant earrings and brooches. The materials used are another trademark: there’s an extensive use of plexi, metal, cabochon stones and crystals. The main purpose here is simply commercial – there’s a lack of innovation in shapes and materials – but most of the pieces are nice.

This is probably my favourite piece. I love cuff bracelets and camellias, and this one perfectly blends the two elements. It’s a black plexi cuff bracelet embellished with several metal and diamanté camellias. The filigree effect is exquisite and characterizes other jewels of the same collection.

An incredible array of crystals embellishes the petals of metal camellias on this lovely brooch, something I would love to wear on the lapel of a simple dark blazer or on the belt of a pencil skirt.

Now, this bracelet is not one of my favourite pieces (there’s too much going on, in my opinion), but the way in which it’s embellished is very peculiar: it’s decorated by a knitted-looking metal net and diamanté stars. I would never say no to a Chanel bracelet, but I wouldn’t be very lucky if I got this one as a present.

On the contrary, this resin cuff inlaid with diamanté stars would be amazing to receive. Stars have often been used on Chanel clothes and costume jewellery, not to mention some exceptional pieces of fine jewellery with the same motif – just think of the iconic Comète necklace. The cuff above is lovely because it combines diamanté stars in different sizes and the trademark double Cs.

The same decoration can be found in a set of resin bangles with different dimensions.

Another recurring theme in Chanel costume jewellery collections is the chain, especially the gold chain/black leather version. Here the theme has been re-worked to give it a more modern vibe. I must admit I don’t like this solution very much and I prefer the classic one. The collar necklace above is made of metal chain decorated by lambskin; it should look modern and kind of youthful, but it is so old-looking, you know, like some kind of accessory nightmare from the early 80s.

This set of silver-toned chain bracelets, decorated with colourful lambskin, is nice but quite cheap-looking, in my opinion.

I don’t even want to start commenting on these chain and lambskin bracelets: the dusty colours of the lambskin details are not a good choice, because they make the bracelet look so bland and ordinary. They surely cost a lot, but do they look like a fabulous Chanel piece of costume jewellery? I don’t think so.

I’ve got mixed feelings when it comes to this set of four bracelets embellished with glass cabochons. The first three bracelets – the thin ones – are really nice and they would look awesome if worn stacked in a group of 5/6, but the last one is clearly a joke. It looks so cheap: maybe it’s the combination of white and pink which makes it girlish and plastic-looking, but I don’t like it. That is definitely the weakest piece of the set.

Last but not least, here comes an impressive bracelet. Its style is reminiscent of the pieces above and it also reminds me of the Paris-Byzance collection: it is embellished with glass cabochons and diamanté baguettes. The colours of the stones are beautifully matched – hot pink, milky white, black, brown/mauve – and make the gold metal look less cheap.

I would like to hear your honest opinion about this collection. It’s been a while since I first had the feeling that something had changed in Chanel costume jewellery collections. The last one which really got me excited was the spring/summer 2011 (those beautiful gingko biloba leaves!), but then things have gone progressively more commercial, less interesting and more cheap-looking. Is this the nth effect of globalization or is the symptom of a deepercrisis? I’m not referring to Karl Lagerfeld, who obviously doesn’t design costume jewellery collections, but to a progressive loss of exclusivity that the brand used to have. Chanel bags or jewellery are still incredibly expensive, but they’re somehow attainable; more and more “ordinary” people buy Chanel products [1], so it’s clear the rise in popularity, visibility and (relative) affordability concur in changing the image of the brand and – probably – the originality of its products. Selling is the no. 1 goal for fashion houses, so no wonder that the latest costume jewellery collections are just a repetition of successful and marketable styles. Though expected, this still makes me sad.

[1] The same can be said for Chanel fashion shows. Do you remember when attending them was almost impossible? Now,  judging from the number of bloggers (and I mean ordinary bloggers) who attend them, it’s apparently pretty easy to get an invitation. The aura of exclusivity has clearly disappeared.



  1. My favourite piece(s) are the plexi/ resin bangles and cuff with diamante stars. Pretty? Yes. Worth the money? Not at all! I am not a fan of “dupes”, but honestly, who would want to spend so much for something that is neither groundbreaking nor exclusive? I can see a lot of people replicating some of these items (and perhaps producing better clones than the original items) and selling them in street markets! I suppose that’s what you mean when you say “cheap”, and I totally agree with you! I know there’s not all that much you can do to a bracelet year after year, saturation is inevitable, but IMHO, tackiness is not excusable- at least not when it’s coming from Chanel! Those leather and chain bracelets could have been avoided, and the echo of Paris- Byzance is felt in many of the pieces… very boring indeed!

    PS: Before I get called a snob, I have nothing against street markets, on the contrary, but I feel that’s not the place for Chanel to be.

    so Kiara

    1. It’s true: street markets are not the place for Chanel to be, but it’s the truth is that they’re totally disappointing. I must be honest and say I wouldn’t buy the real thing nor the clones: there’s no innovation whatsoever, no desire to create something beautiful, but only the same styles repeated collection after collection with minor changes. Is this what Chanel means today? An endless replication of cheap-looking jewellery?

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