Coco Chanel Camellia: A Closer Look at The Most Prominent Flower in Vintage Chanel Jewelry

There are many speculations as to why Coco Chanel loved camellia, so much so that it appears on Chanel jewelry, clothes, accessories, bags, and more. Some believe it was due to the flower’s lack of scent, meaning it never interfered with Chanel’s most famous perfume – No. 5. Some say, Coco first fell in love with the camellia after reading Alexandre Dumas’ ‘La Dame aux Camélias’, a story in which the heroine always wore a white camellia, showing her heart remained pure.  

Chanel's Camellia symbol

The camellia’s emblematic value and symbolism are also important factors. For instance, in Korea, the flower is considered to be a symbol of longevity, purity and faithfulness. Which is why camellia is still a popular choice at weddings. In the West, men would pin the flower to their jackets as a sign of refinement and ambiguity. Known for its perfect symmetry camellia evokes feelings of everlasting beauty, perhaps that’s what draw Mademoiselle Chanel to camellia. [caption id="attachment_2933" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Coco Chanel Gripoix Turquoise Necklace Earrings Set Coco Chanel Gripoix Turquoise Necklace Earrings Set[/caption]  

First appearances of Coco Chanel

When Coco was 13, she saw Sarah Bernardt’s performance in the The Lady of the Camellias and was deeply moved by it. Years later, in 1913, when Coco Chanel chose to open her first fashion boutique on rue Gontaut-Biron in Deauville, camellia made its first official appearance on Chanel’s designs. Mademoiselle Chanel accessorized women’s shirts and beach pajamas with pearls and camellias; these were loosely stitched to the belts and collar lapels. In 1923 Mademoiselle Chanel pinned the camellia to her chiffon dresses for the first time. [caption id="attachment_5300" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Chanel Metal Mesh Crystal Scarf Chanel Metal Mesh Crystal Scarf[/caption]  

Jewel-like buttons and other distinguishing features of true Chanel

Inspired by Austrian jackets for men, Coco conceived the now iconic tailored jacket in the 1950s. Interestingly, to ensure a freedom of movement, Mademoiselle Chanel would take her customers' measurements with their arms crossed and hands resting on their shoulders. A delicate chain is still sewn into the lower part of the jacket to ensure that it falls impeccably, like it was nearly 7 decades ago, and the jacket is done up with jewel-like buttons stamped with the lion's head motif (Coco's astrological sign was Leo), camellia, or the double C logo. [caption id="attachment_4956" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Runway Chanel Chain Necklace Runway Chanel Chain Necklace[/caption]  

Coco's tap into flowers and feathers

When Gabrielle Chanel came up with her camellia designs, she turned to Maison Lemarié for collaboration. Lemarié was known for production of artificial flowers since 1946, and also made a name in Paris for an impeccable work with feathers since 1880. Lemarié’s work with feathers and flowers offered an infinite range of potential textures and patterns: From velvet, leather, and tweed to organza, silk and satin. [caption id="attachment_4798" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Chanel Gripoix Pearl Bow Necklace Chanel Gripoix Pearl Bow Necklace[/caption]  

Camellia in Chanel jewelry today

It takes twenty five petals to create the iconic flower of Chanel. The flower blooms in a winter, one season ahead, much like a fashion industry that has to be at least a season ahead. The camellia flower is reinvented in many timeless forms within the Chanel collections throughout the last century up to today: As stunning embroidery, leather appliqué, engraving on Chanel jewelry and accessories, as well as silk brooch, gold earrings element, ring, bracelet, belt buckle, watch, and of course as the finishing touch on the famous strand of pearls necklace. [caption id="attachment_4802" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Chanel Gripoix Pearl Drop Earrings Chanel Gripoix Pearl Drop Earrings[/caption]