Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was born in Aug 19, 1883, during the harvest festival when the warm smell of wheat filled the countrysides of France. Although she was too young to recall the day, she grew up regarding wheat as a symbol of luck, renewal, prosperity and creativity.
As an adult, wheat was present in different forms in her apartment at Rue Cambon, her suite at the Ritz Paris and her home in La Pausa. Various wood and bronze furniture bore wheat carvings and a Salvador Dali oil painting of a single ear of wheat hung in her apartment. She even had a habit of sprinkling wheat throughout her homes to invite luck.
In 1960, she designed a Spring/Summer haute couture dress in ivory lace overstitched with golden thread in an ear-of-wheat motif. It was so beautiful, French actress Jeanne Moreau had one designed for her measurements.
Paying tribute to this legacy, the Chanel house of fashion has created the high jewellery collection Les Blés de Chanel – “les blés” meaning “wheat” in French. The collection of 62 pieces celebrates the life cycle of wheat and its association with regeneration, abundance, wealth and luck.
Pieces such as the Premiers Brins, Brins de Printemps and Brins des Diamants use diamonds, peridots, crystalline and aquamarines with transparency to recall young wheat stalks. Other pieces such as the Moisson Ensoleillée, Bouquet de Moisson and Moisson de Perle feature diamonds, yellow sapphires and pearls to evoke images and sensations of summer harvests.
In 2016, the house of Chanel collaborated with French artist Gad Weil to create a large wheat field in Place Vendôme, the plaza in front of the Ritz Paris hotel. The work titled Blés Vendome required 150 people to mount it. Subsequently, the art installation was recreated in Saumur, the birth city of Chanel, and then again in Taiwan.
Come Feb 23, artist Weil will be here in Singapore to mount a new Blés Vendome at the Event Plaza of the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for the public to enjoy. It will run till March 1. A special Les Blés de Chanel Exhibition will also open at MBS’ ArtScience Museum for an invite-only guest list. Subsequently, the collection will be showcased at Chanel MBS boutique as well as Chanel Fine Jewellery boutique at Takashimaya from March 2 to 31.
This story first appeared in The Business Times.