By Pakkee Tan

Chanel’s Got Sports On The Mind For Their Latest High Jewellery Collection

Is it any wonder?
Artwork by Marisa Xin

It’s no secret that Coco Chanel was an avid sportswoman throughout her life—she had a lifelong love of horseback riding (introduced to her by her lover Etienne Balsan), a fascination with polo (thanks to paramours Boy Capel and the Duke of Westminster), as well as various sports such as golfing, skiing, yachting and fishing, to name a few.

In fact, the intrepid designer was so enamoured with the great outdoors that she launched a sports line as early as 1921, according to the house. “I invented the sports dress for myself; not because other women played sports, but because I did,” Chanel once said. “I didn’t go out because I needed to design dresses, I designed dresses precisely because I went out, because I lived, for myself, the life of the century.”

From left: Gabrielle Chanel and Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel; a Chanel business card mentioning “Couture” and “Sport”; Chanel playing golf near Saint-Jean-de- Luz. Photos: Courtesy of Chanel

So when it came to the creation of its new high jewellery collection—titled “Haute Joaillerie Sport” or “High Jewellery Sport”—Chanel’s Fine Jewellery Creation Studio director Patrice Leguéreau naturally turned to their founder’s passion for the physical.

“I was inspired by Chanel’s sporty style, which is such an integral part of the house’s history: the elegance of the line and the freedom of movement,” said Leguéreau. To that end, the 80-piece collection was “conceived to magnify the freedom of the body and the elegance of movement,” the press notes read.

Chanel Haute Joaillerie Sport Graphic Line high jewellery necklace in white gold and platinum with a 10.15 carat cushion-cut sapphire, diamonds, sapphire, rubies and onyx. Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

The collection was launched in Monaco—famously known for its landmark sporting event: the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix—this past week in the presence of stars such as longtime house ambassador Keira Knightley, and comprises six movements: Sweater Sport, Graphic Line, Chanel Print, Quilted Icons, Sporty 5 and Gold Slider.

Keira Knightley at the Chanel Haute Joaillerie Sport high jewellery gala dinner. Photo: Virgile Guinard / Courtesy of Chanel

Drawing its inspiration from its namesake, the collection is a dynamic amalgamation of sporty elements infused with the maison’s house codes. Think energetic graphic lines and chevron motifs, the house’s emblematic number “5” rendered in a Chronometer typography, a victorious star, and Chanel’s beloved lion wrought on a coat of arms, calling to mind sports insignias.

One interesting element in the collection that caught the eye was the innovative co-opting of the humble carabiner—used in yachting, rock climbing and fishing—and elevating it into the world of high jewellery. Chanel’s diamond-encrusted version comes in the shape of the number 5, and its closure features a swivel clasp borrowed from another house icon, the 2.55 bag, and has been worked into necklaces and earrings (a first for the house!). And surprise: the carabiner actually works.

Chanel Haute Joaillerie Sport Sporty 5 Black & White high jewellery necklace in white gold with a 1.02 carat brilliant-cut diamond, diamonds, red and black lacquer. Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

“This is our big point of difference: the design,” Marianne Etchebarne, global head of watches and fine jewellery product marketing, clients and communication at Chanel, told SCMP Style. “You don’t come to us for a classic high jewellery piece—people don’t want that from Chanel high jewellery.”

Discover our favourite pieces from the Chanel Haute Joaillerie Sport high jewellery collection below.

This story first appeared on GRAZIA Singapore.