Chapter 2 The MAISON

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2.1 - THE PIECES

Named after a popular style of dress worn by Russian women, the Sarafane necklace and earrings are inspired by the Russian embroidery that Mademoiselle incorporated into her collections. The necklace's camellia motif is crafted from diamonds and pearls and centered around a stunning 10.18-carat round-cut diamond that's colorless and internally flawless.

2.2 - THE STORY

Integral to the creation of Gabrielle Chanel's Russian-inspired collections was Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. While exiled to Paris during the Russian revolution, the Grand Duchess and her brother, the Grand Duke Dmitri, met Gabrielle Chanel—the latter became a love affair; the former,
an entrepreneurial endeavor.

The sarafane earrings and necklace

In this video, the model is wearing the sarafane necklace and earrings

The Grand Duchess Maria and Mademoiselle Chanel had much in common.

The model wearing the Sarafane necklace and earrings

Both lost their mothers at a young age and learned needlework and sewing from nuns. Perhaps most surprising and pleasing to Mademoiselle was the Grand Duchess' eagerness to earn her own way, as well as her determination to use the traditional Russian embroidery techniques as a pathway to independence.

Drawing of a CHANEL haute couture outfit with traditionnal russian embroderies
A drawing of an outfit from the CHANEL Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1922 collection, featuring the traditional Russian embroidery of Kitmir.
Kitmir

Enthralled with traditional Russian influences and surrounded by Russian lovers and friends, Mademoiselle commissioned the Grand Duchess to create embroidery for her collections—a reinterpretation of folk motifs and traditional Russian styles, as seen through the lens of Gabrielle Chanel. This marked the beginning of an exclusive partnership between the two women: an embroidery atelier called Kitmir.

Gabrielle chanel wearing a russian inspried tunic
Gabrielle Chanel pictured in 1923 wearing a Russian­ inspired tunic of her own design - Photo W. Rehbinder © All Rights Reserved / Courtesy of Vogue Paris
Drawing of a CHANEL haute couture outfit
A drawing from the CHANEL Haute Couture 1922 collection, featuring the traditional Russian embroidery of Kitmir.
Chanel Haute couture dress - 1923
A dress from the CHANEL Haute Couture Spring-Summer 1922 Collection, featuring the traditional Russian embroidery of Kitmir.

2.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE

2.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE

The Sarafane pieces are supple in structure, allowing the wearer freedom of movement. The Perlé technique creates Russian-inspired beadwork, where each tiny bead of the borders is fashioned entirely by hand.