Oh, Boy: Chanel launches new fragrance

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Fashion designer, Coco Chanel is well known around the world for her fabulous fashion line worn by all the A-list celebrities. What many people don’t realise is, Coco (who’s real name is Gabrielle) was raised in an orphanage which is where she was taught her sewing skills.

After having a brief career as a singer she became friends with, Étienne Balsan and stayed with him just outside of Paris where she lived as a ‘kept woman’ in his mansion, and this is where she began to mingle with Balsans wealthy companions and this is when she met a man who would change her life forever, Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.

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Arthur Edward Capel loved to read

Captain Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel (1881 – 22 December 1919) was an English poloplayer, possibly best remembered for being a lover and muse of fashion designer Coco Chanel.

Born in Brighton, Sussex, Arthur Capel was a ship-owner, politician, tycoon and polo player . He was the son of Arthur Joseph Capel, a British shipping merchant, and his French-born wife, the former Berthe Andrée A. E. Lorin (1856-1902), and he had three sisters. But today he is better known for his 9 year love affair with Coco Chanel.

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Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel (middle) in front of the Chanel Boutique in Deauville in 1913

His affair with Chanel apparently began in 1909, when he became acquainted with the then 26 year old mistress of his friend Étienne Balsan. In that time he was already an apparently wealthy self-made man and he supplied Chanel with financial backing, and financed Chanel’s first shops. His own clothing style, notably his blazers, inspired her to put a squared masculine touch on her classic clothing styles, and creation the Chanel look. If it wasn’t for Arthur’s money or style then Chanel would never had had the funds or fashion muse to make what is one of the most well-known designer brands in the world.

The couple spent much time together at fashionable resorts such as Deauville, but.. he was never faithful to Chanel. Their relationship lasted nine years, and even after Capel married in 1918, he continued his affair with Chanel until his death in late 1919.

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Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, Étienne Balsan and Arthur Edward ‘Boy‘ Capel

Arthur tragically died in a car crash on Monday 22 December 1919, allegedly en route to a Christmas rendez-vous with Chanel. A roadside memorial was placed at the site of the accident, consisting of a cross bearing the inscription:

A la mémoire du capitaine Arthur Capel, Légion d’Honneur de l’Armée Britannique, mort accidentellement en cet endroit le 22 décembre 1919

He was buried with full military honours at Fréjus Cathedral, in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France, on 24 December 1919. After his death Coco began wearing black during her grieving process and she told a friend that the world would mourn with her which is where the ‘little black dress’ evolved from, and why black is no longer tied in hand with association with death but more with elegance and class. Chanel claimed Arthur Edward ‘Boy‘ Capel was the love of her life.

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An exceptional Fresh Aromatic fragrance infused with the timeless elegance

We were so busy waiting for Chanel’s reinterpretation of their No. 5 fragrance titled L’Eau (slated for a fall release) that we didn’t see this one coming at all! The new scent from Chanel is a unisex fragrance created by the house’s master perfumer Olivier Polge. It also becomes the latest (17th) addition to the Les Exclusifs collection and just like Misia (also an Olivier Polge creation), it was inspired by one of Chanel’s closest friends: Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.  Gabrielle Chanel considered him as more than her soul mate; he was her double and her alter ego. Inspired by their love, Boy Chanel is a vibrant, perfectly balanced scent that challenges tradition and transcends gender.

My way of working on this fragrance was really not to try to make a unisex fragrance but really more to dive into men’s fragrance…and to show how well it could be worn by a woman. So it was not to try to create an in-between fragrance, but a very masculine fragrance. And — like many other things in life — gender is given by the person wearing it.

Olivier Polge

Boy is a masculine fougère with main accords of lavender and rose geranium sourced from the south of France. The composition also includes lemon and grapefruit, a note of rose, orange blossom, sandalwood and heliotropin, plus a hint of vanilla and musk accords. Like the others in the Les Exclusifs collection, it is contained in a simple rectangular bottle, and will become available worldwide this month in in two sizes, 75 and 200 ml Eau de Toilette.

You need this — and so does your boyfriend!

June Birthstones: Alexandrite, Moonstone and Pearl

Alexandrite,

A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-like qualities.  Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light.

Alexandrite Diamond White Gold RingWhite gold diamond and 1.20 ct Alexandrire emerald cut ring

 

Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone.  (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.)

Moonstone,

The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone.  It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century.  A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat’s eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune.  Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne.

 

PLATINUM MOONSTONE DIAMOND EARRINGS Mauboussin

Mauboussin pair of platinum earrings with eight cabochon moonstones weighing approximately 23.75 carats, accented by round diamonds weighing approximately 8.45 carats (Click photo to enlarge).

The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.

 

Pearl,

Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries.  They were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty.

Coco Chanel & Serge Lifar, 1937

Coco Chanel’s favorite: Pearls

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and her famous pearl necklace

cartier Pearl Ruby Nacklace Elizabeth Taylor

Cartier, La Peregrina Necklace, 1972
La Peregrina a natural late 16th century pearl weighting 202.24 grains or 50.56 cts, 56 natural pearls, 4 cultured pearls, diamonds, rubies. Detachable pendant may also be worn as a brooch

Designed by Elizabeth Taylor with Al Durante of Cartier.

In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.

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Barbra Streisand and others, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Martinelli at Chanel fashion show 1966 (Photo by Bill Eppridge).

Barbra Streisand stands out at a Chanel fashion show by not wearing a suit by Coco Chanel. What the other women, like Marlene Dietrich, where thinking of her outfit…

 

Gabrielle Chanel in her suite at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937

 

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The Ritz Hotel in Paris at the Place Vendôme, is arguably a museum in itself with all the clandestine history that went on behind those doors, but it turns out the hotel has been hiding one very expensive piece of art history in particular all these years, not in a dusty attic but in Coco Chanel’s former suite no less.

As you might be aware, in the summer of 2012, the Ritz closed for the first time since César Ritz opened the hotel in 1898, to undergo a two year renovation project. All the furniture and valuables of the hotel are being stored in a secret location until the project is complete. But before the hotel’s contents were removed, a large-scale inventory was conducted before closure.

Coco Chanel at the Ritz Paris

A room with a view: Coco Chanel at her rooftop apartment at the Ritz, Paris

When the inventory team began accounting for the opulent furnishings of the famous Coco Chanel suite, where the designer called home for 37 years until her death in 1971, a painting in the drawing room caught the undivided attention of the hotel’s art advisor, Joseph Friedman.

“When I saw this painting in the suite, I had to take a step back. It had a very powerful impact,” Mr. Friedman, former curator of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s residence in Paris, told the Agence France Presse. “The use of colour and the movement are remarkable. It was clearly the work of a major 17th century French master.”

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The ‘mystery’ 17th century painting hanging on the drawing room wall of Coco Chanel’s suite, Friedman’s colleague found the initials CLBF and a date, 1647, but the mysterious tableau depicting the ritual slaying of Trojan princess Polyxena had no record of purchase or installation in The Ritz archives, much less any information about the work.

Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie’s France specialist of the 17th century spotted the painting hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite a month before the hotel’s closure and instantly recognised it. “I thought it was a Le Brun straight away,” he said. “It was very well preserved. It was really quite moving.”

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The initials stand for Charles Le Brun Fecit, Charles Le Brun being a dominant figure in 17th-century French art, and declared by many as ‘the greatest French artist of all time’. Fecit is a latin word that previously appeared on works of art next to the artist’s name, meaning ‘he (or she) made it’. 

“The influence of Poussin is obvious,” says Friedman, referring to LeBrun’s works which were notably often inspired by the master of baroque art, Nicolas Poussin. And although experts have not found any contemporary record of the painting, the oil painting has been officially identified as an early work by Le Brun  (1619-1690), making it more than 400 years old. “No-one is in any doubt that it is a genuine Le Brun,” according to Friedman.

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Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in her suite 302, at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937, published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1937, this photo was chosen for the Chanel No.5 advertisement.

Dubbed by Christie’s as The Sacrifice of Polyxena, the painting has been hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite for decades, if not longer. Nobody knew it was there or even existed. Since there are embarrassingly no records for it, it’s anyone’s guess how it got there. Perhaps Mademoiselle Chanel herself could have brought it in quietly during the German occupation of Paris. Coco lived at the Ritz throughout World War II. She also had highly questionable relationships with the Nazi’s who were notorious for looting valuable art collections belonging to wealthy French (Jewish) families as well as major museums.

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The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Or it could have already been on the premises when César Ritz purchased the property– although the fact that the original 1705 building was so extensively rebuilt during its conversion into a luxury hotel would make the latter hard to believe.

But even harder to believe is that after Chanel’s death when an expert inventory team no doubt went through the three room suite with a fine-toothed comb, the 17th century masterpiece hanging right in front of them on the wall went ignored.

Shocking still, before the suite was reopened to the world’s elite at €10,000 a night, art historians and interior specialists as well as Karl Lagerfield had even been called in to recreate the world Chanel lived in and to actually research the original furniture, decorative objects, the fabrics, even the wallpaper– and still no one noticed the paining staring right at them.  Perhaps if any of the wealthy guests over the years had possessed some real artistic knowledge, they would have made an offer on the painting at reception.

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris

No one did, and today the painting by Charles Le Brun has a pre-sale estimate of €500,000. It will go on display in New York temporarily and be auctioned by Christie’s in Paris in April, where the money raised will go to a foundation established by businessman Mohamed Al Fayed. Mr. Al Fayed is of course the owner of the Hotel Ritz, who set up the charitable foundation in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana. They dined together at the Ritz just before their fatal car crash in 1997. “Mohamed Al Fayed decided to sell it because he thinks its quality means it should be in a museum,” Friedman said. “It deserves to be part of a major collection.”

 

 

The Bird Cage clock by Chanel is an ode to captive beauty

The Bird Cage clock by Chanel is an ode to captive beauty Chanel’s The Bird Cage clock is an extraordinary objet d’art created for the last years Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. Before her death in 1971, French fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel made a wish: “May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life.” And if Chanel’s Café Society collection, to be unveiled at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris last autumm , is any indication of her ongoing influence from beyond the grave, she must be a very happy soul indeed. The 87 high jewellery pieces that comprice the Café Society collection from Chanel celebrate the early 20th century bohemian movement, of which Gabrielle Chanel was a leading force. In addition to the one-of-a-kind jewels are some wonderful Café Society high jewellery watches and an extraordinary clock, christened “The Bird Cage”. Sheltered in a white gold cage, two stylised cockatoos share their love for eternity. Chanel Birdcage Clock

Chanel’s Birdcage combines expertise in watchmaking and jewellery featuring a cockatoo sculpture made with mother-of-pearl marquetry and stone-setting. Chanel’s white gold Birdcage clock featuring two cockatoos entwined amongst pink camelias features 61.5ct of brilliant-cut diamonds, sculpted moonstone, sculpted pink quartz, rock crystal and gray and white mother-of-pearl. (Click photo to enlarge).

Moving away from the crisp, cosmopolitan lines of avant-garde geometry that characterise the high jewellery collection, “The Bird Cage” is an ode to romance, femininity and Coco Chanel’s love of Oriental exoticism. Inspired by a miniature jewellery birdcage housing two lovebirds, which she kept on a coffee table at her 31 rue Cambon apartment, this exceptional piece highlights many of the maison’s areas of expertise, including sculpture, gem-setting and mother-of-pearl marquetry.

The sculpture of the two birds is so detailed that even the pectoral feathers seem to breathe with life. The birds are perched on a branch of pink flowers, which on closer inspection reveal themselves as pink camellias sculpted from rose quartz, Coco Chanel’s favorite flower. The materials used to create this unique piece range from white gold, used for the cage; brilliant-cut diamonds to highlight the crests, feathers and tails of the birds and the centre of the flowers; sculpted moonstone, pink quartz and rock crystal for the birds and flowers; and grey and white mother-of-pearl for the pedestal of the cage. At the base of the branch, a pink camellia-framed clock with a diamond bezel marks the passing hours and minutes, which seem to be frozen for eternity in this splendid refuge.

For some an amazing item, for others, ‘super kitch for the very rich’…

by Jean Amr