Coco Chanel's lost jewellery recreated for show that's Hong Kong-bound

Reproductions of 1932 high jewellery the centrepiece of the exhibition, now open in London, about the craft of French fashion house's founder, its history and iconic collections

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 October, 2015, 11:29am

A lost diamond jewellery collection designed by Coco Chanel in 1932 has been recreated and forms the dazzling centrepiece of a Chanel exhibition that opened this week at the Saatchi Gallery in London, and will travel to Hong Kong next spring.

The Comète and Franges necklaces and the Soleil brooch are precise recreations of the only collection of high jewellery that Coco Chanel ever designed, the Bijoux de Diamants. The jewellery, which Julianne Moore, Lara Stone, Rita Ora, Vanessa Paradis and other celebrity ambassadors of the house wore in the exclusive casino scene at Chanel’s haute couture show in July, is now available to order.

This glamorous mix of Hollywood and music celebrities were among the guests at the preview party Chanel hosted for the exhibition, which invites the visitor into the heart of the creative process of the couture house. “Mademoiselle Privé” tells the story of the three enduring pillars of the house: the haute couture, the high jewellery and Chanel No. 5.

Like the fashion shows, the exhibition is a lavish production opening with a specially planted English garden, leading to rooms that recreate the splendours of Paris' Rue Cambon. Visitors are introduced to Coco Chanel the milliner who became a couturier. There are early images of Coco herself sailing and salmon fishing in her fabulous Scottish tweeds and an installation of artworks from Chanel's spring/summer 14 ready-to-wear collection featuring the house totems: the lucky numbers (she was very superstitious), the wheat, the camellias and the colour red.

A maze of hanging fabrics from the collections, available to touch, is combined with a series of film clips from the Chanel atelier and workshops showing artisans creating the famous embroideries, flowers and feather trims. The iconic No. 5 is represented by a quirky installation of giant cauldrons filled with the various scented liquids like jasmine and rose that make the fragrance.

At the heart of the exhibition are the diamonds sparkling on the dresses worn by the celebrities at the haute couture show, and posing for Karl Lagerfeld in a gallery of his photographs. There is Julianne Moore wearing the Comète necklace and Kristen Stewart wearing a Moi et Toi ring.

A smartphone app makes the exhibition spring to life with words from Geraldine Chaplin, who has portrayed Coco Chanel on film. There is also a hilarious short film showing Chaplin as the ghost of Chanel having a lively argument with Lagerfeld about who has made the house what it is today.

“I’m keeping you alive,” protests Lagerfeld. “After you left, the image of Chanel was not great. It was very limited, what you left behind.”