Chanel presents the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton collection of seven different jewellery watches all of which are based on a flexible cuff fastened to the wrist with a button. The cuffs are covered in either the classic Chanel tweed with gold thread woven through it or, for the high jewellery versions, black lacquer and diamonds.
The collection pays homage to Mademoiselle Chanel’s obsession with buttons. Bringing men’s tailoring staples such as tweed and military uniforms into women’s fashion was one of the couturier’s most striking innovations. She paid particular attention to the detail of the buttons and by using more feminine motifs such as camellias or lion heads, she transformed the language of male military tailoring into feminine and chic garments.
There are five variants of the button including a pearl, gold lion, diamond-set camellia, an agate cameo of Gabrielle Chanel – of which only five have been produced - and a byzantine cross. The clever design of this watch makes the button both a functional in securing the cuff to the wrist as well as a decorative cover over a diamond-set dial.
Each of the buttons echoes an aspect of Mademoiselle Chanel’s life. Born a Leo, the lion refers to her superstitious nature and interest in the zodiac. Camellias were her favourite flowers and were found blooming in neat wooden planters outside her rue Cambon boutique and throughout her couture work. As for pearls, Mademoiselle Chanel is well known for draping extravagantly long, multiple strands over her slender frame, mixing real jewels with costume; a style that is still admired today. The byzantine cross on the stunning all-diamond high jewellery version speaks of her travels to Venice and her love of the churches she visited there and in particular their highly ornate, bejewelled altar pieces.
The Ganse de Diamant version, or diamond braid, covers the white gold cuff with a glossy black coating to create a dramatic backdrop for the Australian half-pearl and the 510 diamonds set on the rim of the cuff and around the dial. Most opulent of all is the Serti Neige version, which due to its time-consuming and complex diamond-setting technique is a one-off piece. The 2,481 diamonds are set in a seemingly random pattern creating an effect of freshly fallen snow. The byzantine cross is set with larger cushion, pear and brilliant cut diamonds surrounded by gold braid. Turning the humble button into an exquisite jewel captures the innovative and ever-questioning spirit of Chanel herself.