Chapter 1 The FRIENDSHIPS

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1.1 - THE PIECES

The Aigle Protecteur necklace pays tribute to Mademoiselle's vision of Russian Paris. Crafted in platinum and diamonds, the two-headed eagle keeps watch over the rare shield-cut diamonds and sparkling rows of briolette-cut diamonds.

1.2 - THE STORY

“The Russians fascinated me” Gabrielle Chanel
© 1976, HERMANN, www.editions-hermann.fr
Serge

While Paris would see a wave of Russian emigrants as a result of the revolution of 1917, Serge Diaghilev—the great Russian-born critic, curator and ballet impresario—flooded the city with Russian mystique as early as 1909. With the sensational debut of the Ballets Russes, a Russian dance troupe that originated in Paris and became the most influential ballet company of the 20th century, Diaghilev conjured a vision of Russia in the imagination of Parisians.

The Aigle Protecteur necklace

In this video, the model is wearing the aigle protecteur necklace.

Although Gabrielle Chanel and Serge Diaghilev came from distinctly different backgrounds—he from a cultured and wealthy Russian family - she, an orphan raised by nuns—the unlikely pair were kindred spirits with a like-minded work ethic and disregard for convention. One evening in her townhouse at 29 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Mademoiselle hosted a glorious event in Diaghilev's honor. A stunning party where Russians rubbed shoulders with Parisian society figures and artists while a band played in the opulent setting.

The model wearing the Aigle protecteur necklace
Gabrielle and her friends
Gabrielle Chanel surrounded by friends, including Igor Stravinsky and Serge Lifar—the star of Serge Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes, © Photo Roger Schall / Collection Schall
An illustration of Gabrielle Chanel at a dinner, from the February 1923 edition of American Harper’s Bazaar p.29, All rights reserved
"Serge invented a Russia for abroad, and, naturally, abroad was taken in”
Paul MORAND, L'Allure de Chanel, 1976, © Hermann p.103

Mademoiselle observed how Paris went wild for Serge Diaghilev's fervent dancers and fictionalized version of Russian sophistication—an observation that would have a profound effect. In 1922, she captured her vision of Russia with the launch of the Russian collection, replete with rubachkas, babushkas scarves and folkloric embroidery.

1.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE

1.3 - SAVOIR FAIRE

Inspired by the Russian artifacts in Gabrielle Chanel's apartment, the Artistic Director of the CHANEL High Jewelry studio sketches a study for the Aigle Protecteur necklace, creating a likeness of the two-headed eagle perched atop Mademoiselle's extravagant mirror.