Last summer, in celebration of its wheat-inspired ‘Les Blés de Chanel’ high jewellery collection, Chanel transformed the Place Vendôme in Paris into a field of wheat. Created in collaboration with the artist Gad Weil, the installation featured maze-like geometric sections of sheaves, encased in black plinths. Now, the concept has been transposed to the house’s New Bond Street boutique in London, for a special showing of pieces from the 'Les Blés de Chanel' collection.
The New Bond Street installation in London includes screens and mannequins featuring projections of nature, from wheat fields to the night sky. Photography: Aylin Bayhan
The potent symbolism of wheat – prosperity, fertility – appealed to Coco Chanel so much she furnished her 31 rue Cambon apartment with depictions of it. Gilded wooden sheaves lined table legs, and golden bundles of wheat framed her fireplace, a design touch captured by Cecil Beaton in a 1967 illustration. Salvador Dalí even gave an oil painting to the designer, comprising a single golden ear of wheat.
The 'Les Blés' high jewellery designs includes an ear cuff, that gently curves around the ear, and a single grain brooch, an echo of Dalí’s oil painting. Lush tourmalines, peridots and emeralds, and yellow diamonds and sapphires, reflect the colour spectrum of a wheat field in summer.
The London boutique installation brings not just the designs to life, but also the plinths of wheat in which they are displayed. Behind each case, projections of the sky feature on screens and mannequins, from gently blown fields on a summer’s day, to a star-filled night sky, emphasising the collection's focus on the cycle of nature. A swing laden with sheaves is a pretty visual centrepiece, while shadows from the installation are reflected onto the floor. A classical soundtrack fills the air, while a sweet perfume heightens the atmosphere and adds a finishing golden touch.