On a trip to Monte Carlo in 1923, the French couturier Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was introduced to Hugh Grosvenor, the second Duke of Westminster, with whom she began a decade-long love affair. The couple would go hunting and fishing at his 40,000-hectare Reay Forest estate in the Scottish Highlands, where, on blustery days, the designer often borrowed the duke’s tweed blazers. Eventually, she enlisted the Scottish mill Linton Tweeds to produce her own yardage and, having famously cast aside delicate crepes and muslins, she presented her first cardigan made from the nubby fabric. “I asked wholesalers for natural colours,” she would later recall to the French novelist Paul Morand. “I wanted women to be guided by nature.” Chanel’s bouclé tweeds and tartan ensembles, which were made in monochrome as well as pastel palettes, became synonymous with her refined, ever-so-slightly rugged style.
Now, three years after releasing the first Tweed de Chanel high jewellery collection, the historic fashion house has created 63 new pieces inspired by five of its recurring icons: spools of white ribbon, camellias (the designer’s favourite flower), comets, lions and the sun. One of the standouts is the Tweed Poudré, a brooch that can transform into a necklace when worn on a chain. At its centre is a brilliant-cut diamond, encircled by an array of powder pink sapphires set against rose gold openwork that mimics the embroidery of tweed, as well as the shape of the camellia. Complex and daring, just like the woman who started it all