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Jewellery’s finest

Art-deco jewellery steal scenes and set gem trends in Woody Allen’s Café Society

All eyes on Chanel's sparkling pieces in Allen’s latest film

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 1:30pm

Café Society, which stars Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively and a tonne of Chanel jewellery, is the latest in a long line of film and fine jewellery collaborations that have graced the silver screens of Hollywood. Like the Great Gatsby, it celebrates the iconic art-deco look.

Set in the 1930s, the film shuffles between glamorous Hollywood and glitzy Los Angeles. The scenes are set in a swinging LA nightclub, leaving the film with ample opportunity to parade a marvellous array of Chanel pieces from the fine-jewellery house’s art-deco-inspired collections.

The Chanel pieces on loan to the production outshone the stars. Lively’s appearance at the club in the lamé silver gown would not have been half as scintillating without the Ruban Brooch from Chanel’s Les Intemporels de Chanel high-jewellery collection fastened to her strap.

Covered in brilliant-cut diamonds, the soft, swooping loops of the bow motif also served as a reminder of 1930s fine-jewellery fashion, of which Chanel’s designs were a large part.

In the same nightclub scene, around Lively’s delicate wrist are the strong arcs of the Franges Swing Bracelet from Chanel’s 1932 collection.

The playful geometry of the bracelet can be seen in its use of asymmetrical curves and straight lines that are dressed in 263 round-cut diamonds weighing a total of 19.3ct.

The influence of bold, geometric forms from Cubism in art-deco jewellery are put clearly on display in the Symphony line from Chanel’s Café Society collection.

The Symphony Earrings worn by Lively, and the Symphony Necklace worn by another socialite, feature the use of fancy-cut diamonds such as the marquise and emerald cuts. The various basic shapes that inspired the pieces are clearly highlighted through the use of 18ct white gold bezel and split-bezel settings.

The Symphony line was not the only one from Chanel’s 2014 Café Society collection to be featured in the film. The Chanel Broadway Bracelet, with its geometric lines and mix of emerald, square, and brilliant-cut diamonds set in 18ct white gold, was also featured, capturing the feel of 1930s art-deco architecture.

Suzy Benzinger, costume designer for the film, says: “The job was easy. Put an elegant, simple dress on an actress, accessorise with a brooch or earrings – instant glamour. That’s the genius of Coco Chanel.”

Unfortunately for Chanel, Woody Allen’s sepia-toned love letter to 1930s Hollywood demonstrated a preference for diamond and white gold pieces, despite the fact that 1930s art-deco jewellery often featured coloured stones such as onyx, lapis lazuli, jade, and coral apart from the usual emerald and sapphire.

Put an elegant, simple dress on an actress, accessorise with a brooch or earrings – instant glamour. That’s the genius of Coco Chanel
Suzy Benzinger, costume designer, Café Society

This meant that the more colourful pieces in Chanel’s Café Society collection might have been a tad too colourful for the film, like the opulent Morning in Vendome Necklace that features a Bauhaus arrangement of onyx amid white diamonds surrounding a 12ct yellow diamond.

Needless to say, the russet hues of the Sunset line of the Café Society collection with its rose gold and Padparadscha sapphires, were notably missing from the period production as well.

Café Society’s use of art-deco jewellery is the second film in recent memory to place the art-deco movement front and centre in fine jewellery design. The first was The Great Gatsby (2013).

Baz Luhrmann’s 1920s period piece afforded Tiffany and Co. an opportunity to leverage on the Roaring 20s to launch three art-deco-influenced collections. The first was the custom-made fine jewellery pieces for the film, called The Great Gatsby Collection, which followed the film from premiere to premiere. This collection featured most notably the diamond and freshwater cultured pearl headpiece set in platinum with detachable broach that cost US$200,000.

The second was their Ziegfeld Collection, which featured a similar use of freshwater cultured pearls in the tasseled sautoir necklace – an iconic art-deco design from the period that captured all the life and movement of the era. This collection was set in silver and priced more accessibly for the general public.

Both collections were then topped off with the launch of their premium Blue Book Collection, which aligned itself with the film production once more by having a jazz-age theme.

From the high jewellery Blue Book collection, an alternative version of the iconic art-deco sautoir necklace saw Tiffany and Co. replacing the freshwater cultured pearl tassel with tsavorite beads that infused the design with a shock of green.

Film and fine jewellery houses have benefited from numerous collaborations over the decades.

From Audrey Hepburn’s multistrand pearl and diamond necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), to the Satine necklace designed and made by Stefano Canturi constructed from 1,308 diamonds and weighing 134ct in Moulin Rouge (2001), film productions have functioned as extended publicity campaigns for the launch of many famous looks and collections. It would seem that between The Great Gatsby and Café Society, the quick succession of films featuring art-deco-inspired designs have cemented the look as the picture-perfect finish in fine jewellery for the foreseeable future.