This highlighter was a sweet little surprise from Chanel. I'm not sure why they chose to release it now, as a pearl jewelry collection was introduced in 2014, but it's a delightful nod to Coco Chanel's popularization of long, dangling strands of faux pearls as well as their use in Chanel's contemporary fashion.
The embossing on the box was a nice detail.
While she was not the first to make use of costume jewelry in her collections, Coco Chanel introduced the notion of mixing them with one or two real pieces. "A woman should mix fake and real. To ask a woman to wear real jewelry only is like asking her to cover herself with real flowers instead of flowery silk prints. She'd look faded in a few hours. I love fakes because I find such jewelry provocative, and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions around your neck just because you're rich. The point of jewelry isn't to make a woman look rich but to adorn her; not the same thing." Coco's idea of piling on faux jewelry alongside real gems democratized the practice of wearing jewelry, as the combination of genuine and fake allowed women to perfectly accessorize their outfits at a more affordable price. And her costume jewelry of choice? Long strands of oversized fake pearls, sometimes mixed with chains and beads.
(image from milkywayjewels.com)
These strands have been an integral part of Chanel style for many years, but the couture house is constantly reinventing them and using pearls in new and innovative ways. Today I thought I'd highlight some my personal favorites from the past 10 years.
Pearls were used as hair accessories, either fairly simple (shown here at the fall 2006 couture show)...
...or elaborate, as at the pre-fall 2009 show.
Pearls can also be delicate belts, shoe decorations or even a small purse.
Another thing I've noticed is how Chanel plays with proportions of pearls. Take, for example, the enormous pearls that adorned the necks and wrists of the models while also dotting the clothes themselves for the spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection, or as veritable boulders at the spring 2014 ready-to-wear show.
In sharp contrast to the relatively tidy, orderly application of pearls in the above collections, pre-fall 2012 was all about haphazardly heaping them on in multiple places - of course as necklaces and bracelets but also as belts and and sewn onto jackets. Mixed with intricate embroidery, lamé, metalwork and gemstones, pearls lent an incredibly luxe yet sophisticated feel to the collection. Indeed, Karl Lagerfeld wanted a collection reminiscent of traditional Indian royalty that also acknowledged India's modernity, and the use of Chanel's signature pearl strands combined with other jewels was essential in achieving this.
I really only care for pearls when they're edgy and/or disheveled, so obviously I'd kill to have the bracelet below.
You might remember how inspired I was by the ethereal, under-the-sea vibe of these pieces, not to mention the mermaid-esque beauty look.
(images from vogue.com)
Overall, I liked this palette as it's a simple representation of a rather groundbreaking and recognizable aspect of Chanel's aesthetic. Would I have liked to see a little more detail in the pearls? Perhaps, but sometimes with depictions of couture house icons, a more straightforward design is best.
What do you think? And are you a pearl wearer? As I said above, I don't like a neat little line of pearls - I need to have them messily mixed with spikes, studs, etc. to toughen them up.