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Mad for matelassé

Diana Khoo
Diana Khoo • 5 min read
Mad for matelassé
Coco Crush fine jewellery collection by the house of Chanel continues to enthral and inspire
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Inspired by the spirit of freedom and comfort and yet strongly rooted in the design codes of the privileged world of equestrian sports, the Coco Crush fine jewellery collection by the house of Chanel continues to enthral and inspire

SINGAPORE (Apr 24): Those interested in the world of fashion and design would be well familiar with the story of the iconic 2.55 handbag by Chanel. In the 1920s, when women’s handbags were cumbersome and designed to be carried in the crook of one’s arm, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, ever the non-conformist and liberator of the way women dressed traditionally, decided to create one that would free up her hands.

Inspired by the straps of soldiers’ bags and the keychains of nuns at the convent where she spent her childhood, the designer crafted a thinner, double-strapped version and attached them to what has become one of the most recognisable and covetable handbags in the world. Besides the double-chain shoulder straps, the 2.55 handbag, so named for its debut in February 1955, is also easily recognised by the unique stitching technique known as matelassé that yields a distinctive quilted or padded pattern.

This is highly emblematic of the maison and speaks of Mademoiselle Chanel’s lifelong love and friendship for Étienne Balsan, scion of a family of wealthy textile industrialists from Châteroux. After all, it was none other than the former cavalry officer turned horse breeder and racer who had introduced her to equestrian sports. In fact, it was in Balsan’s stables that Chanel first observed the matelassé pattern of the saddle coats and horse blankets. She would go on to use the technique in her trademark groundbreaking way later on.

For women who appreciate the freedom and modernity afforded by the 2.55’s design, the house’s equally celebrated line of Coco Crush fine jewellery gives yet another avenue with which to explore and physically embrace this revolutionary spirit. First unveiled in 2015, Coco Crush is, in essence, a lightweight, highly wearable collection of jewellery. Ideal for the everyday, it is also not lacking in luxury in any sense. A palette of various metals — from yellow gold to white gold and beige gold, all 18 carats, of course — has been mobilised for the collection, which comes with or without diamonds but all bearing the signature rounded gadroon contours.

Pretty yet playful, luxe without being stifling, Coco Crush’s choice pieces range from quilted motif bangles to 18-carat Huggie hoop earrings. What we particularly love are the ear cuff and two-finger ring — worn so insouciantly by brand ambassador and celebrated actress Keira Knightley — which possess a touch of the urban rebel about them yet never straying from the finesse and femininity that are the maison’s hallmarks. There is no denying the impact left by Mademoiselle Chanel in fashion and, indeed, society as a whole, from the 1920s to the present.

Certainly, even as she boldly blazed the trail for women to embrace comfort and freedom in a time when restrictive dressing in the form of corsets and petticoats held sway, she released women from what society then expected of them, giving them room to be the women they were. A hundred years ago, Mademoiselle — as she was always referred to respectfully by those who knew her — achieved this through her designs. Today, all it takes to remember and indeed honour this spirit is by having a touch of Chanel in your daily life.

However, for true Chanel connoisseurs, the homage is best paid in an accoutrement that is originally unassuming but, in the maison’s hands, elevated to the realms of high fashion — much the same way in which the simple quilted padding of a horse saddle provided the inspiration for the most covetable range of fine modern jewellery in the world today.

What’s your crush? Three favourite Coco Crush pieces + how to wear them

What: Coco Crush quilted motif cuff bracelet in 18-carat yellow gold

Wear: This stunning bracelet demands attention, so do not cover it up. Try pairing it with a perfect little sleeveless black dress for a look Mademoiselle herself would certainly approve of.

What: Coco Crush mini version ring with quilted motif in 18-carat yellow gold and diamonds

Wear: The Coco Crush ring by itself is a stunner, but why not be playful and stack them up? Mix and match the different shades of gold as you please

What: Quilted motif earrings in 18K white and yellow gold and diamonds

Wear: This has a touch of the rebel about it. So, the best look to go with this defiantly luxurious accoutrement would be the Gabrielle bag by Chanel, created especially by the late, great Karl Lagerfeld to bear the name and spirit of Gabrielle Chanel herself. The choice of material to match the ear cuff would be denim, naturally

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