Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel – the fashion and style pioneer whose many achievements included the creation of the essential ‘little black dress’ for contemporary cocktail wear – always championed monochrome. Remarking that ‘Women think of all colours except the absence of colour’, she acknowledged black’s status outside the spectrum. Black – alongside beige, red, white and gold – has remained the signature shade of the House, confirming Chanel’s assertion that ‘Black has it all’.
Like her colour preferences, over the decades the maison’s designs have always referred to the symbols and objects that Mademoiselle Chanel (as she was called) loved to surround herself with, weighted with so much personal significance. These ‘codes’ are implicit in every aspect of Chanel’s stylistic world, including the Mademoiselle Privé watch collection, a showcase of craftsmanship melding the best of watchmaking, high jewellery and other couture crafts.
This spring saw the addition of the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton collection, paying homage to the button. Humble as it may seem, for Gabrielle Chanel, the button was so much more than a fastening, it was an essential component. Inspired by military dress and sailors’ uniforms, the button became a hallmark punctuation on key garments in every collection. As such a miniature vehicle for an emblem, she is said to have paid particular attention to their motifs, which featured a wide range of ornamental designs.
Proving again that black has it all, Chanel’s Watchmaking Creative Studio has created a collection of seven watches, including two high jewellery pieces, inspired by the sleeve of the Chanel jacket, always braided and studded with a button. Each piece of time-telling jewellery features a black tweed cuff, bordered with golden braid, which is fastened on the wrist with a button that conceals a diamond-set dial. Each button showcases one of Chanel’s symbols – a few of her favourite things that include a pearl, a carved gold lion, a camellia formed by diamonds, a Byzantine motif – that provides a captivating cover for the secret watch below.