In Gabrielle Chanel’s hallowed 31 Rue Cambon apartment sits a small statue of a mighty lion on a gilded mantlepiece. Standing between cigarettes and scissors, the king of the beasts rests his golden paw on a minuscule globe amid the emblematic essentials of the late designer. In 2010, a magnified replica of this decorative lion statue became the colossal centrepiece to Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Fall/Winter ’10 couture show. Instead of a globe, the sinewy predator cradled a giant pearl. A towering symbol of poise and strength, smack dab in the middle of the Grand Palais. A mammoth tribute to its founding mother.
Any Chanel devout would know that Chanel had an obsessive fascination with astrology. Born on 19 August, Chanel’s birth sign was Leo. The symbol of her zodiac, the lion, had been her lucky charm for as long as she could remember. Superstition, then again, was inherent to Chanel. Mythic keepsakes peppered her dwelling — healing crystals, prosperity wheat patterns, sculptures of deities.
Aside from the golden statue of which she would keep close to her, lions recurred as motifs for her home decor, as imprints on the buttons sewn to her feted tweed suits or on the clasps of her handbags. As it punctuated her collections like a talisman, it became evident that the lion held a special place in Chanel’s heart.
Sous le Signe du Lion pieces from left: Lion Medaille pendant in white gold, smoky quartz and diamonds. Lion Medaille ring in white gold, smoky quartz and diamonds. Lion Medaille ring in yellow gold, lapis lazuli and diamonds. Lion Medaille sautoir in yellow gold, lapis lazuli and diamonds.
It made perfect sense then when in 2013, four decades after Chanel’s passing, her namesake maison decided to pledge a line of fine jewellery to the recurring mascot, monikered the Sous le Signe du Lion which means “under the sign of the lion”. Each year, the leitmotif was to be rendered into majestic jewels, taking cues from its different facets.
This year, the line sees eight sparkling additions evoking a definitive chapter in Gabrielle’s life. Grieving the loss of Boy Capel, the love of her life, the designer took a trip to Venice in 1920. Aptly, the city of water’s iconic token was, and still is, the winged lion of St. Mark’s Square. Just like the lion of Venice inspired Chanel to rise and create, it now lends its empowering prowess to the Sous le Signe du Lion.
Lapis blue and astral white medallions bear an iteration of the carved statue. Rings and pendants dotted by quartz and diamonds are glinting reflections of ripples made by the floating city’s gondolas. While a sculpted lion, made in yellow gold and studded by rock crystals, channels Byzantine baroque elements. A glittering representation of strength, power and boldness, sparked by a woman’s unrelenting belief in the impossible.
View the Chanel Sous le Signe du Lion fine jewellery collection here.
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