A Conversation With Frédéric Grangié, President Of Chanel Watches & Jewelry

Chanel presented its Fall Winter 2002/2023 Haute Couture collection at l’Etrier de Paris, an equestrian center in the Bois de Boulogne. Once again, Virginie Viard invited artist Xavier Veilhan to set the design. Echoing the first show he designed in January, he imagined a new installation with virtual and physical spaces inviting to a path with inflatable installation, leading to a dreamlike geometric carousel.

By inviting artists to interpret the emotion and perfection of Haute Couture, Virginie Viard continues to mix the arts, just as Coco Chanel did. The show was as grandiose as the collection. The result is incredibly wearable, feminine and powerful.

Virginie Viard celebrated the 1930’s pieces that Mademoiselle Chanel designed. There were lots of pleats, rounded shoulders, geometric patterns, embroideries, sequins forming flowers, velvet.

Big, small, flashy colored hats, long dresses with lace and chiffons, coats for every occasion, mid length skirt suits paired with cowboy boots bringing so much modernity.

Green look, silvery suit and that beautiful “black see through” dress conveying such an impression of lightness. The clothes are definitely designed to be worn.

For the first time some looks were accessorized with exceptional pieces from “1932” Chanel latest High Jewelry collection, a tribute to “Bijoux de Diamants” collection created by Gabrielle Chanel in 1932.

The afternoon of the show, inside one of the most beautiful offices in Paris with views over Place Vendôme, Frédéric Grangié, President of CHANEL Watches and Jewelry, talks about “1932” and his division. There are CEOs that you love to meet, Frédéric Grangié is one of them.

When did you arrive at Chanel?

I started at Chanel on February 29, 2016. So I celebrate my anniversary at Chanel every four years! I sat down in this office on July 1st 2016, the day when Chanel and street artist Gad Weil set up a 1 million ear wheat field. I told myself I was lucky!

Could you tell us about 1932 High Jewelry Collection?

This collection celebrates 90 years of High Jewelry at Chanel. We are in a very important cycle today, it already started years ago. We wouldn’t have reached this kind of level without 30 years of hard work, investment and passion. These past three years were very important for us, but unfortunately with the context we could not organize any event. We could finally show “1932”, a tribute to “Bijoux de Diamants” collection at Grand Palais Ephemere. It was the perfect place to tell the story of what happened in 1932.

So what happened in 1932?

The London Diamond Corporation asked designer Gabrielle Chanel to create the first ever High Jewelry collection. For the first time ever, a strong powerful woman, a seamstress, a dressmaker imagined a collection with diamonds and above all very easy to wear. It was an opportunity to explore innovative ideas and to apply Haute Couture to High Jewelry. She conceived the collection around a unity of themes (the comet, the sun, the stars and Couture with ribbons, bows, feathers, fringes) and time and place. It was unlike anything else created by the jewelers of her time. Today these themes are the foundations of Chanel Watches & High Jewelry. After Black Thursday in 1929 and the pessimistic mood of the time, it was a revolution in the 1930s.

Today it is an evidence for us but we could not imagine what would happen when Gabrielle Chanel created it. We could see it in the Pathé Gaumont short movie at the exhibition that we discovered in 2012. The documentary was filmed in Gabrielle Chanel’s townhouse and it presented a representative selection of jewelry in the exhibition highlighting two pieces in gold and yellow diamonds. “Bijoux de Diamants” was above all a collection designed with women in mind. Men did not come anymore to buy jewelries for their wives, but women could buy diamonds for themselves. She was always ahead of her time.

The way she presented the collection at her home at 29 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré was planned in every detail. The models wore make up and had styled hair. The elegant invitation card was printed in black and white and the entrance fee of 20 francs would be donated to two charities. It was definitely a premiere in the luxury world!

And today? After 90 years, the Chanel Fine Jewelry Creation Studio led by Patrice Leguéreau has drawn its inspiration from the modern spirit of “Bijoux de Diamants” to create a new story. The 1932 High Jewelry Collection is a journey out of time and place to gaze up at the circling of planets and the movement of stars. Patrice has revisited the Comet, the Moon, The Sun and has added the satellite and the rocket. The creative studio has imagined 77 creations – 15 are above a million- 13 can be transformed wrapping around and resting freely against the body. We are very proud as all the pieces have been made, here on the creative studio in 18 place Vendome. It took 3800 hours of work. It is incredible. The original collection was almost entirely pristine, the new one gives pride and place to colorful gemstones: sapphires, opals, rubies, spinels, tanzanites, blue and yellow diamonds. 1932 is a collection, so we will continue to have it in 20, 30 or 50 years. We will of course celebrate its hundredth anniversary in 2032!

What about the “Allure Celeste” necklace, the collection’s signature piece?

It is already an icon! The necklace was sold even before it got presented. It had never happened before. This piece was already exceptional: among other things the round cut diamond, an oval sapphire with its incredible deep color and above all because of its weight : 55.55 carats! This necklace was born under a lucky star for sure! We love that at Chanel.

What does “1932” represent for you?

Gabrielle Chanel said: “Nothing could be better for forgetting the crisis than feasting one’s eyes on beautiful new things, which the skills of our craftsmen and women never cease to unveil”. This collection has a twofold importance. Firstly, I think the amount of work made on the brand and the creation and the fact that we always want to elevate Chanel, which is always our first aspiration . Then the sales follow, it is a consequence finally. Commercially this collection had a huge effect as we have mostly sold everything in four days. This collection is linked to 1932 like the one which took place 10 years ago when for the first time, Patrice celebrated 1932 and the one which will take place in 10 years’ time. I think 1932, Bijoux de Diamants will be a time maker in the history of jewelry at Chanel. Every 10 years we will enrich this story which was a real scandal at that time, but Gabrielle Chanel was a visionary.

What are women looking for when buying Chanel High Jewelry?

Our clients come for the creation which tells the house of Chanel and its history. They are looking for the absolute “savoir faire” and for sure the most unique gems. We have it all at Chanel.

What could you say about the future?

We are planning 2023, 2024, 2025 and more. We have the availability to create infinitely, we will continue to add stories and tell the evolution of High Jewelry at Chanel. We will create new collections to nurture the language and the codes of High Jewelry at Chanel. Gabrielle Chanel is an infinite source of inspiration.


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