Is it a necklace or a sculpture? A work of art or an architectural landmark? Jean-Michel Othoniel’s 56-foot tall pearl necklace for CHANEL’s recently renewed flagship store in New York might actually be all the above. The acclaimed artist created an awe-inspiring structure stretching from the ground all the way up to the fifth floor and the result of his work really is a thing of beauty.
Othoniel has been engaged in projects reflecting aesthetic thoroughness his entire career. When everyone else turned to minimalism or neo-expressionism for some artistic street-credit, essentially snubbing what is considered traditionally beautiful, he remained consistent by sticking to what he knows best. Expressing his feelings and musings with fine materials and unorthodox methods in a strictly elegant manner, even if his peers thought his work was not radical enough.
Judging from Gabrielle Chanel’s love for art, it makes perfect sense that the 57th Street CHANEL flagship store is also packed with glorious pieces by other renowned artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer, Peter Dayton and Y.Z. Kami. Fashion and art are forms of expression that bloom in close proximity and often blend into each other. It is precisely this knowledge that makes the store the perfect place for Michel Othoniel’s gigantic necklace and the CHANEL legacy always relevant and on point.
The 1920s was a majorly important decade for Gabrielle Chanel. During that period Coco launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, she introduced the iconic CHANEL suit, she invented the little black dress and she designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée. She also fell in love with the wealthy Duke of Westminster! One important little detail, though, that people tend to forget is the fact that it was around that time when she established her favorite shoes, the nautical-inspired Mary Janes.
Constantly drawing inspiration from the CHANEL founder’s glorious past, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented the classic Mary Janes in a contemporary context, for the CHANEL Cruise 2018-19 Collection. Available with sneaker rubber soles, embroidered with sequins or in a plain leather version, the iconic footwear constitutes a near-replica of Gabrielle’s own shoes, as they are depicted in old photos of her lounging on board her lover’s yacht or just having fun in Deauville, France.
Although we have seen Mary Janes on the runway before, for CHANEL’s latest Cruise Collection Karl created a whole narrative in a literal cruise sense, including a large dock, a cruise ship named La Pausa and a bunch of sailors. When it comes to CHANEL, it looks like going back and forth in time is nothing but a fashion necessity.