The Symbols of Chanel

From Chanel no5 to the Camellia flower, repeat motifs often appear in Chanel collections. In this blog we will be looking in detail the stories behind those symbols:

 

The Wheatsheaf

A Black Chanel Brooch featuring a Wheatsheaf design

Gabrielle Chanel was a very superstitious person and often surrounded herself with lucky symbols and talismans. One of the reoccurring symbols that often come up with Chanel is the wheatsheaf. Sheaves of grain are revered in the bible and in ancient cultures. The wheatsheaf is a symbol of appreciation of hard work and harvest. In French culture, the wheatsheaf is a sign of abundance and wealth. It was said Chanel kept a small bundle of wheatsheaf in her private quarters at The Ritz as well as in each room at her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon.

 

Camellia Flower

A Gold and Silver-Coloured Chanel Camellia Brooch

The Camellia flower is synonymous with Chanel. It is a motif that appears regularly on packaging, bags, clothing, jewellery, and shoes. The Camellia made its first appearance in 1913. These flowers originate in eastern and southeast Asia, and are most revered in that region. For instance, in Korea, they are a symbol of longevity and faithfulness, making them a popular choice at weddings. In the West, they have come to symbolise desire, passion, and refinement. The Camellia was Coco Chanel’s favourite flower. Allegedly, Chanel was given her first bouquet of camellias by her polo-playing lover, Boy Capel. Coco Chanel enjoyed the flower for its symmetrical beauty. She was a very aesthetic person. It also was a flower of no scent so it didn’t interfere with her perfume.

 

Chanel N°5

A Chanel No5 Perfume Bottle Brooch

Chanel N°5 was launched in 1921. It was Chanel’s first signature perfume - and this year (2021), this iconic perfume is 100 years old. It's one of the world’s best-selling perfumes. At the time, the royalties sold from the sale of the perfume made Chanel a very wealthy lady. It was famously worn by Marilyn Monroe, and when once asked what she wore in bed, she famously replied ‘Just 5 drops of Chanel N°5’. The classic art deco style of the Chanel N°5 perfume bottle was allegedly designed to look like a whisky decanter. The creation of the famous perfume has become legend: In 1920, Chanel started working on her first fragrance with Ernest Beaux, a former perfumer to the Tsars of Russia. It took Beaux several months to perfect the new fragrance, but eventually he came up with 10 samples. When he presented them to Chanel, they were numbered 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. She picked number five, which explains the origins of the iconic Chanel N°5 perfume. Chanel told master perfumer Beaux the main reason she named her perfume after the number five was the belief this would bring good luck. She said “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already – it will bring good luck.”

 

Chanel 2.55 Classic Flap Bag

A 10" Chanel Classic Flap Bag in Black Lambskin and with Gold Hardware

In 1955, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel released the iconic 2.55 Quilted Handbag. The 2.55 handbag would become the most widely recognisable handbag ever. Now it's widely known as the 2.55 Classic Flap Bag to credit the year of its inception – Feb, 1955. At the time of the bag's creation, Chanel was 70 years old. Ever the innovator, Chanel created this bag with a movable chain, to allow women to go hands free, contrasting lining to spot items, lots of handy pockets for quick access and discreet security. This bag design is almost 70 years old, and the base construction of the design has changed little. In 1955, a classic Chanel Flap Bag would set you back $220 – about £100 back then!

 

Chanel Jackets

A Chanel Girl Bag

In 2015 Karl Lagerfeld created the Girl Bag. Playing homage to the emblematic details of the Chanel jacket (designed in 1954), the style has become a timeless classic. The bag design reflects the jacket's open pockets on the front, the buttons stamped with the Chanel logo (even on the cuffs) and the matching or contrasting trim. You may wonder why the jacket style keeps repeating throughout the Chanel collections? Well, Chanel had closed her business during the Second World War, and it was in 1954 – her 'comeback year’ – she revived her couture house again, 15 years after she had closed it. The 1954 collection consisted of 2 piece matching suits – very much like the jacket style you see on the Girl Bag. The suit style was a commercial success – in particular in the US –and the classic two-tone or tweed suits have become a signature style of Coco Chanel.

 

Here at Luxury Promise, we love the way the house of Chanel reinterprets and preserves Chanel’s style and her history. And we hope you appreciate it as much as we do. We admire the way the house of Chanel finds clever and innovative ways to celebrate Chanel’s unique style every season.

Shop all of our vintage Chanel, here.