CHANEL’S TRAGIC & INSPIRING LOVE STORY WITH THE CAMELLIA

The delicate beauty of flowers has evoked the muse for so many famous artists throughout the centuries. For Gabrielle Chanel and now CHANEL, it is the beautiful, short-blooming camellia or Chinese rose – a symbol of everlasting love and devotion.

The story of Gabrielle Chanel’s adoration of the camellia flower begins with a single blossom and a gift from a charming man who captured her heart forever. His name was Boy Capel and he was known as a “dashing lover”. He was a very wealthy man by the time he met Chanel and he put his whole trust in her.

Though their love affair was brief and ended tragically, it left an indelible mark on Chanel’s heart and lived on through her designs, in particular the recurring and emblematic camellia. To this day, CHANEL honours this love affair and “endlessly showcases Mademoiselle’s beloved flower, the camellia, in designs of rare femininity.”

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Today we’re going to recapture that magical moment when Chanel fell in love with the exquisite camellia. To my sheer delight, CHANEL suggested we close down the park at Chiswick House and Gardens and fill in the Camelia Garden with the latest CHANEL Fine Jewellery, and give this girl unlimited access. It’s enough to make you feel giddy! My very own floral funhouse for a day! CHANEL, you know how to make my dreams come true!

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“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”― Coco Chanel

This is one day where I definitely have a date with destiny! In the style of Mademoiselle Chanel, I’m going against convention and trying something I’ve never done before: double eyelashes! Like the delicate camellias in the Chanel necklace, I’m going with white, accented with black.

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\\While I take in the intoxicating beauty of the camellia house and try on some of the magnificent jewellery in this elegant collection, I am reminded of Chanel and Capel’s love story and how they met. It all started with one single bloom known as the camellia and it was love at first sight.

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While theirs was a passionate relationship, it only lasted nine years. Boy married in 1918 and died one year later in a car accident, reportedly on his way to see Chanel during the Christmas holidays. Her love burned so deeply for Boy Capel, it became the spark that pulled her out of her grief and inspired her to continue creating her most famous designs – her signature perfume (a scent that has endured the test of time, like her love for Boy and the camellia), the little black dress (the quintessential item in every woman’s wardrobe), the tweed jacket (that defied the corseted fashion of the day) and of course, the Chanel suit (a bold statement and a far cry from the hourglass, structured dresses of that era).

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Inspired by this tragic love affair with Boy Capel, Chanel immortalized her love for him in so many of her creations, but never more so than in the camellia.

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And now CHANEL is keeping that flame alive in their latest Fine Jewellery collection called the Jardin de Camélias. This is an exclusive collection of high jewellery, consisting of 99 magnificent, one-of-a-kind pieces.

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This necklace is called Camélia Gansé (a braid of camellias) in 18-karat white gold set with diamonds. I love the nostalgia in this elegant necklace and how it immortalizes the spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and so many of her designs.

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The bold black spinels against the feminine white diamond petals, so reminiscent of her iconic jackets with black embroidered trim and symmetrical feminine lines. It’s as if each petal is stitched together like the original silk camellias Chanel would pin to her lapel or in her hair. Artistic genius!

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The elegantly elusive Chanel has always mystified biographers until now. Justine Picardie uncovers the mystery of the camellia, the little black dress, the tweed jacket, the suit, the perfume – every facet of Chanel’s universe – in a beautifully never-before-told story – Chanel – Her Life. A must-read! Picardie was granted access to private archives of Chanel’s, as well as previously undiscovered archives in the United Kingdom and France to paint a true picture of the captivating woman behind the legend, including her love affair with Boy Capel.

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As I reflect on the love story and how it inspired so many of Chanel’s creations, I change into my Christopher Kane dress (that arrived just in time, thanks to MatchesFashion.com) and slip on this beautiful CHANEL brooch from the Camelia Gansé collection. The camellias in this brooch in 18-karat white gold set with diamonds and black spinels reflect the simple, elegant, beautiful symmetry that Chanel so loved in this flower.

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Remembering Chanel as she peered out of the stained glass windows of the orphanage where she grew up, the very same windows where she got the inspiration for the brand’s iconic logo.

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The emblematic camellia shows up in so many parts of Chanel’s life, including the coromandel screen in her apartment at 31 rue Cambon, Paris. The very same place where Boy Capel financed her first independent millinery shop, Chanel Modes. 

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Look how beautifully this Mary Katrantzou dress complements the simple elegance of the Chanel Petales de Camélia jewellery watch with matching ring and earrings. Mademoiselle Chanel would love how CHANEL has recreated the camellia in this fine jewellery collection.

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One of Chanel’s favourite aspects of the camellia was its elegance and geometric circularity, something that Petales de Camélia captures magnificently in this luxurious watch in 18-karat white gold with opals, pink sapphires and diamonds.

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Feeling giddy from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Such a beautiful day, spent with magical people (my team Julia and Olga) in the exquisite surroundings of Chiswick House and Gardens, dressed in CHANEL’s Finest Jewellery. I’m ready to fly away!

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It was an honour having this beautiful place all to myself. I got to know the exquisite camellia as Chanel would have experienced it. Its natural, symmetrical elegance and rare feminity – perfection matched only by CHANEL Fine Jewellery.

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Chanel was so enamoured by this flower and its perfectly symmetrical bloom that it became a leitmotif in her designs. The circular theme of this Camélia Ajouré pendant captures Chanel’s passion perfectly.

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CHANEL’s many exquisite reincarnations of the camellia continue the enduring love affair with this flower that began so many years ago with one single bloom. The Camélia Ajouré pendant shown here in 18-karat white gold and diamonds.

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My favourite, the Fil de Camélia ring in 18-karat white gold and diamonds. Much like Chanel herself who fell head over heels in love with the camellia the very first time she saw it when Boy presented her with one, I too fell in love with this camellia ring. So evocative of Mademoiselle herself in so many ways. It’s simply a masterpiece!

CHANEL Imagine how much Chanel would have loved these outstanding Tuxedo Camélia hair pins in 18-karat white gold and diamonds. Some of her first camellia creations were made of silk that she pinned in her hair to remember the love of her life. Timeless, classic, beauty. CHANEL

Thank you CHANEL for an experience I’ll never forget. Experience the world of CHANEL for yourself at Chanel.com 

GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. Makeup by Geraldo Frazao . Hair by Simone Bagala. 
All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE. Material on this website may not be copied, broadcasted or adapted without written consent.

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