CHAPTER 3 The MUSES
3.1 - THE PIECES
The Aigle Cambon cuffs are rich with CHANEL iconography. Cuffs, usually one on each wrist, were a favourite jewellery style of Gabrielle Chanel. The double-headed eagle motif was inspired by the mirror in her Rue Cambon apartment, with the same double-headed eagle perched aloft. The central stones, octagonal in shape, reference the mirror’s reflective surface, which is, coincidentally, the exact form of Coco Chanel’s beloved Place Vendôme.
3.2 - THE STORY
Gabrielle Chanel once declared, “I’ve never done things by halves”, and her passion for all things Russian was no exception. After her love affair with the Grand Duke Dmitri, Coco Chanel created CUIR DE RUSSIE, a fragrance that bottled this romance and perfumed the air in the CHANEL boutique on Rue Cambon, where exiled Russian aristocrats became sales associates and models. Lending authenticity to Gabrielle Chanel’s Russia-inspired creations, these Slavic beauties became a living embodiment of Chanel’s imagination of Russia.
“I’ve never done things by halves” Gabrielle ChanelIsabelle FIEMEYER, Intimate CHANEL, Flammarion, 2011, p.149
The Aigle Cambon cuffs
With her imposing height and icy-blond looks, Lady Iya Abdy was the most celebrated of these figures, having fled her native Russia during the Revolution. The press deemed Abdy one of the most beautiful foreigners in all of Paris, with the great photographers of the era eager to capture her likeness.
For Gabrielle Chanel, Lady Abdy exemplified the understated elegance that she so prescribed to, and Abdy became a muse and a trusted friend of Chanel’s. As the bond of friendship developed between the two women, Lady Abdy assumed the role of ambassador to the house, donning Chanel’s creations during evenings spent with Paris society.
Lady Abdy exemplified an allure and Russian glamour much embraced by Gabrielle Chanel, but the feeling of admiration was mutual: Lady Abdy remarked of Coco Chanel, “Her charm was incomparable. It was almost magical.”** Pierre GALANTE, Les Années Chanel, ed. Mercure de France, Paris, 1972, p.124, All rights reserved.
3.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE
3.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE
Traditional, savoir-faire chiselling techniques are used to form Russian-inspired patterns and textures in the yellow gold cuff, an age-old craft created entirely by hand.