HAUTE HORLOGERIE ON A PAR WITH SURGERY: NEW VERSIONS OF THE ICONIC CHANEL J12 WATC

ARNAUD CHASTAINGT, DIRECTOR OF CHANEL’S WATCHMAKING CREATION STUDIO, REWORKS THE LEGENDARY WATCH WITH SURGICAL PRECISION

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Illustration by Ellie Rahim

Indeed, it does sound like surgery. To create the new version of the Chanel J12 watch – and making the most of Chanel’s black and white hallmark – two single-colored (one black, one white) extremely hard, scratch-proof ceramic cases are produced, then cut and combined to form the Paradoxe watch,  

Hand-crafted at Chanel’s atelier in Switzerland, the name of the watch dates back to the year 2000. Jacques Hélleu, Chanel’s artistic director for almost three decades, named it after the 12-meter J-class racing yachts. When this black, ceramic watch, characterized by distinctive, minimalist, pure lines, first came to life, it revolutionized the watch world: both haute horlogerie and casual timepieces. This luxury watch changed the whole concept of luxury watches.  

The re-creation of famous, distinctive watches is anything but simple.

In 2013, when Arnaud Chastaingt joined Chanel’s Watchmaking Creation Studio, he was faced with a colossal dilemma: to create a new watch from scratch, or to remake the iconic J12 version, which—paradoxically—was a much more complex and ambitious task than working from zero.  

As a result, he reworked a whopping 70 per cent of the original components, which—again, paradoxically—yielded a subtle, modern result. The philosophy behind the remaking this legendary watch was a harmonious yet strong-willed evolution rather than abrupt revolution, with discreet aesthetic changes and advances. This reflects Mr Chastaingt’s personality and style: deliberately keeping a low profile and staying away from the spotlight, preferring that people talk about his creations rather than about him.  

Unisex, elegant and timeless, the reworked J12 will pave the way for future developments in the world of high jewelry and watchmaking.  

Among other recent horological creations from Chanel, my favorites are Code Coco, released in 2017, and Monsieur de Chanel, launched in 2016.  

In the dynamic and bold Code Coco, Arnaud Chastaingt manages to find the right balance between past and future. With a touch of retro, this streamlined, sophisticated and delicately luxurious timepiece does not look at all old or ‘historic’.  

Monsieur de Chanel was the brand’s first watch to be created with men in mind. Understated yet super-elegant, not overdesigned nor excessively extravagant, it’s slick, powerful and manly, but not over the top. This is a watch I would wear myself. The perfect reflection of Coco Chanel’s inimitable advice for stylish women and classy men: ‘It is always better to be underdressed.’

Underdressed, in the world of Chanel, stands for elegant and elite.

Illustration by Ellie Rahim

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LIKE A PHOENIX THEY RISE: FREDERIC MALLE PERFUME AND NAK ARMSTRONG’S EARRINGS

A SEDUCTIVE RETRO-VIBE SMELL THAT PLAYS IN TUNE WITH GEOMETRIC PINK OPAL EARPIECES
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It’s funny how memory sometimes plays games with our senses. A tone of voice, a smell, the perception of colors come together and build a multifaceted image in our heads. Sometimes we don’t even understand the reasons behind this, or remember why.

I was nudged to smell the Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose perfume by my seven-year old daughter, who was genuinely in love with it. To be honest, I was reluctant even to try it: the name, the notes, the very concept did not speak to me. But once I gave it a go, in a flash I knew: That’s my A.! This smell is all about her!   Lipstick Rose—a love-it-or-leave-it aromatic concoction of grapefruit and violet, sweet rose, iris and raspberry, sensuous and fluffy vanilla and white musk—was developed by one of Frederic Malle’s legendary perfumers, Ralf Schwieger, famous for his ability to create intellectual and intuitive perfumes with surprising personalities.

It’s a perfume that makes everyone sense something different. A time travel machine, for some, taking you back to your childhood home, secretly poking around the taboo contents of your mother’s dressing table, trying on her crimson red lipstick, playing at being a grown-up woman for the first time. The dressing room of a 50’s pin-up girl, with, luxuriant, shiny, dark hair, ruby-red lips, smouldering gaze and a killer smile. A go-to office perfume: indulgently sweet, dressy and sexy, but with a demure hint of ‘stay away’ attitude. The delicious allure of the divine Marilyn Monroe. The smell of semi-dark theatres. The ‘big girl’ perfume of real Divas, with a sense of humor and touch of modern irony. The gourmand, bottled essence of the X chromosome.

To balance its sweet, seductive force, I picked up a geometric, sophisticated creation by the extremely talented award-winning designer Nak Armstrong – his Nakard Phoenix sterling silver and opal earrings.   At the core of their modern mobile-like silhouette are the mosaic, repetitive, smooth pale pink cells, cascading down your earlobes and gently swaying with your every step—the pure manifestation of beauty and intellect, stripped of pomposity and cliché.

The modern retro Lipstick Rose smell makes its glorious return and complements with elegance the Phoenix earrings and the femininity of the present-day, ultimate woman.

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LILY OF THE VALLEY BY IRENE NEUWIRTH: THE DREAMY WAY TO RECREATE BEAUTY

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SUBLIME, BRIGHT PALETTE, CONTEMPORARY FEMININITY AND SOPHISTICATION: FLORAL EARRINGS TO BRING OUT THE SENSITIVE AND SENSUAL SIDE OF A WOMAN

Delicate and dangerous: lily of the valley has long been known for its healing and poisonous properties. During World War I, a drug obtained from this plant was allegedly used to treat exposure to poison gas. On the other end of the spectrum: this gentle, elegant and ostensibly innocent flower can cause dizziness, blurred vision and even much bigger problems.

But these flowers have always had a special place in my heart for a completely different reason. When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a birthday present—Diorissimo perfume. A beautiful, luxurious bottle, full of clean and clear scent, with the notes of green leaves, jasmine and ylang-ylang. For a child whose senses are still wide open and perceptive to all the magic in the world, this little bottle represented a whole new microcosm of smells, the marvel and the alchemy of the yet unfamiliar universe of fragrances.

These warm memories and the captivating, fresh, young smell came back to me once I saw the beautiful Irene Neuwirth’s earrings.

I am usually not a big fan of combining opposite tones, but the classic alliance of pale rose with turquoise blue resonated something tender and intimately emotional in me.

The scent of lily of the valley is hard to reproduce in perfumery since processing destroys the smell of its essential oils. Same with the delicate beauty of the original flower. And yet, the quirky, original design of the earrings, in yellow and white gold, carved turquoise and pink opal, akoya pearls and diamond pave, reflecting and redefining every movement and shape of the flower, is the perfect incarnation of this fragile and wild natural wonder.

For the innately feminine, wonderful woman.

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WHERE DO RAINBOWS COME FROM

FROM THE JOLLY JEWELRY BY LUISA ALEXANDER AND FUN PAINTINGS BY JULIE COCKBURN
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Monochromatic looks are forever elegant and safe. But there is always space and reason for color, which can be integrated onto any image or design. Like the vibrant palimpsests by Julie Cockburn, where she layers and adds new colors and angles to portraits, proving that a photograph can be something else—and something more—than just an authentic reflection.
Eye-catching rainbow jewelry by Luisa Alexander also has something refreshing to say. And this word is: happy. Besides being very practical, fitting every style and clothing palette, rainbow jewelry is the ultimate mood maker, keeping your spirits up and brightening your day.
Do not miss your rainbow catch at the Moda Operandi trunk show!

CATCH OF THE DAY

February28Jewelry Now
LITO JEWELRY: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!
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Symbolic, hypnotizing or simply eye-catching. This is not just another necklace. This is a viewpoint, a vision, an attitude.
A fresh look at a traditional artefact by a new creative mind in the world of jewelry. In Lito Karakostanoglou’s interpretation, a popular amulet—meant to protect wearers against the evil eye—acquires gentler, friendlier and more elegant, feminine lines.
This gorgeous golden eye will be watching the world with you and, so distinctive and arresting, it will make the world stop—to look at you.
And for the cherry on top, you can even pick the color! Choose blue, green, purple, yellow or rainbow, rimmed with laconic golden eyelashes or surrounded by diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

What amazing eye candy! What a catch!

A MODERN FAIRYTALE BY AISHA BAKER AND HOONIK CHANG

WHAT IF YOU WERE GIFTED A PRESENT SO BEAUTIFUL YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH WHILE UNWRAPPING IT. SO DELICATE YOU DARE NOT BLINK WHILE WATCHING ITS ALLURE UNFOLD. SO TEMPTING YOU WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN THE VERY MOMENT YOU’VE LOOKED AWAY.
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The ‘Cadeau’ series by the expert jewelry duet Aisha Baker and Hoonik Chang is a one-of-a-kind, limited-edition marvel, a Present to a modern woman, accomplished and realistic yet still enchanted by the magic lingering in the world.
The fairytales are anything but forgotten. Reinvented by the artistic duo through precious and peculiar materials, imaginative and eccentric designs, perfect asymmetry and advanced techniques, they take a physical form of colorful, delicious, exuberant and happy pieces. Red, pink, yellow, blue, gold and white, little crowns, hearts, lips and stars—the castles, clear skies, princesses, romantic stories we were told as kids, still alive at the back of our minds.
The ribbons of the Cadeau Pink earrings, a ‘present’ in yellow gold, enamel, diamonds and lemon quartz, wrap around the sublime fantasies hovering in the air, swinging to the gentle footsteps of a modern woman, open to the beauty and art of enchantment.

JEWELRY & ART. SOME THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM BY BEA BONGIASCA AND GUIM TIO

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THE CLASH OF FRESH IDEAS AND UNORTHODOX CREATIVITY IN THE JEWELRY BY BEA BONGIASCA AND PAINTINGS BY GUIM TIO, TWO YOUNG, FUN AND STANDOUT ARTISTS…
Two young artists, clever and ironic, playful and honest. Their sense of humor and attitude break through the surface of their creations: the punny wordplay and ideas behind Bea’s collections, the way Guim refurbishes fashion images and inhabits his imaginary landscapes with faceless, miniscule human figures.

By mixing and matching her fondness for Eastern aesthetics with Western cosmopolitan tastes, the Milanese jewelry designer Bea Bongiasca jazzes up her intercultural philosophy and imprints a whimsical, perky and young style into her witty collections ‘No Rice, No Life’, ‘Fluoricultural’, ‘You’re So Wine!’, ‘A Golden Lesson’, ‘Happy Go Cola’.

‘Colorful, pop and ironical’ are the three words Bea chooses to define her creative ideology. Using the knowledge she gained during her trips across Asia, she dove into artistic studies, picking jewelry over sculpture. The result is a petite, adorable fantasy world and a micro-sculpture from a carefree dreamland in every piece. Gold and colorful enamel wines, adorned with vibrant gems, create an illusion of smooth and soft movement. They wrap around your fingers, gently sway in your ears, dynamic and lively, breezy and sweet. New lines, new playful approach to jewelry, bold pop look with a good feminine sense of humor,—to lift your spirits!

The Barcelonan painter Guim Tió Zarraluki performs a reverse—darkly humorous, tragicomically provocative—cosmetic surgery on images from fashion magazines: the images are treated with chemicals and oil pastels, altering the beautiful, pop-cultural faces, photoshopped to perfection,  resulting in anonymized, abstract, disturbing portraits with bulgy eyes, grotesque noses and animalistic smiles, or even completely covered in multicolored stripes or bubbles, leaving only a small part of the original image untouched. Like an allegory of people undergoing excessive cosmetic surgery: becoming someone (or something) else in their eloquent attempts to look like a made-up, nonexistent ideal. 

Guim’s landscapes, on the other hand, breathe melancholy and serenity, loneliness and peacefulness. Depending on your personality or mood, you may see them as sad or happy, depressing or cool. In the field, in a hammock, at a midnight gas station, in the middle of a lake, at a lighthouse, under the turquoise skies, in the malachite water, on the khaki grass and salmon sand, at the foot of the asphalt grey mountains, little humans are lost—or found?—amidst colossal spaces.

Two young, colorful, full-blooded artists. Bea—the eponym of joy and vitality, sublime and effortless femininity, and Guim—the messenger of the true nature of things, so eerily appealing and borderline spooky, both ingenious in their sense of beautiful and humorous, in the way they see art. 

Look closer. What do you see?

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THE GOLD OF THE GLOBES: STATEMENT NECKLACES AND STUD EARRINGS

January09Jewelry Now
THE RED CARPET OF THE GOLDEN GLOBES: THE SCENE AND THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE DAZZLING PEOPLE, FLAWLESS AND CONTROVERSIAL, SECRETLY ADORED AND OVERTLY CRITICIZED BY MANY. BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE OR DESPITE. WEARING DESIGNER MASTERPIECES AND SETTING TRENDS FOR THE COMING YEAR.
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From the very beginning of its history, jewelry has showcased status. Produced from rare or difficult-to-mine materials, requiring time-consuming, intricate—to the point of being hazardous—techniques, fine jewelry has always been the trademark of importance, position in the hierarchy.
The pharaohs and queens of Ancient Egypt adored themselves with exquisite jewels made from precious metals, gems and colored glass, while commoners wore jewelry made from rocks, clay, animal teeth and shells. Today the spectrum of materials has broadened immensely and can include all of the above in one piece. Yet, gold and diamonds, sapphires and pearls retain their unshakeable position in the representation of beauty.

Fine, luxurious jewelry is meant to be noticed, even when it comes in the shape and size of tiny, minimalist diamond or pearl stud earrings. Let alone the shiny, filigree, classic and modern, subtle and chunky statement necklaces, screaming for attention: Look at me! Notice me!
Statement necklaces of all sorts, from classical beauty to chunkier modern pieces, and stud earrings of all shapes and colors, from simple diamond drops to complex ornaments, was a palpable trend at the Golden Globes 2020.
No wonder.

Statement necklaces are the ornate, sophisticated frames, drawing attention to the neck, face, hair of the wearer. Stud earrings, no matter if diamond, pearl or metal, will serve forever and work with everything—an easy and painless solution for any occasion.
Look at her, notice her! A gorgeous woman floats through a stunned crowd, making all heads turn. A wealth of little pearl drops shining in her ears, bringing immense, clean light to her face.

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NEW BOUCHERON CHAINS – A GAME CHANGER IN LUXURY JEWELRY

HOW CAN SOMETHING AS TRIVIAL AND MUNDANE AS A HEADPHONE JACK TRANSFORM INTO AN ITEM ADMIRED AND DESIRED BY MANY…
THE BOUCHERON JEWELERS HAVE MIXED A COCKTAIL OF IMAGINATION, MODERN DESIGN AND A DROP OF MAGIC – TO RESTYLE THIS LOW-KEY OBJECT INTO AN ICONIC CHAIN OF OUR TIME.
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The allure of the new Boucheron chains lies both in their contemporary minimalism and in their straightforward paradoxicality: inspired by a plain headphone jack, the magnetic chain clasp is now in the spotlight of attention rather than carefully hidden on the periphery of the precious piece.
Besides, it is fun!
These playful multi-functional chains, which come in white and yellow gold, with or without diamonds, can be worn in endless ways and combinations: as necklaces, bracelets, headpieces or even belts, as standalone pieces or combined with each other and other jewelry. Their design makes them easily matchable with any outfit—formal or informal, evening or casual, while their flexibility makes them perfectly adjustable to the shape of the body.
Available in short and long versions, this innovative jewelry untethers your imagination and breaks new ground for reinventing the ways luxury jewelry may be worn. Try it on—and you can feel the music moving up and down the supple chains, in infinite circles, embracing your neck and waist, coiling and uncoiling around your wrists, the golden melody flowing along with your mood.
Take a closer look at these ingenious creations at the Moda Operandi trunk show.
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