During couture week in Paris in January, Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton unveiled a high jewelry collection called Tweed.
It revisited, in 45 designs set with diamonds, pearls and gradient-colored gemstones, the humble carded-wool fabric that Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel co-opted for women’s wear in the 1920s and embellished with ornamental buttons in a mid-’50s comeback collection.
Last month, the French luxury house brought that thread full circle with Mademoiselle Privé Bouton, a group of seven designs celebrating the practical fastener loved by its founder.
“Gabrielle Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton placed the button on an unprecedented pedestal,” Arnaud Chastaingt, director of the Chanel Watch Creation Studio, said in a statement provided by the house. “She saw it as an artistic medium in itself, yet it absolutely had to serve its function. It tells a story all on its own.” Mademoiselle Privé is Chanel’s fine jewelry watch collection and Bouton is its first set of secret watches, an industry term for timepieces with hidden faces, with gold or bejeweled buttons covering the 10-millimeter quartz watch dials. Like many of the Privé watches, the Bouton designs are loaded with overt and subtle references to the house’s fashion hallmarks, including passementerie and the chains used to weight jacket hemlines. The Bouton Perle, for example, displays half a 15-millimeter Australian pearl encircled by an 18-karat yellow gold chain, and hinged over a white gold watch dial set with 142 brilliant-cut diamonds. Its black and gold tweed-covered leather bracelet is designed to close when the pearl button, mounted at one end, is pushed through a buttonhole at the other — just like buttoning a shirt cuff.
A diamond-set camellia and a lion’s head sculpted in gold are featured in limited editions of 55 pieces each, while a Gabrielle Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton cameo, a diamond-set Byzantine design and another half-pearl style are in limited editions of five pieces each. Prices for these six styles begin at 48,000 euros ($53,835).
Rounding out the collection is the Bouton Serti Neige, or Snow Set, a one-of-a-kind diamond-covered white-gold cuff closed with a diamond-set button, totaling almost 50 carats. Priced at more than $1 million, Serti Neige is the most costly piece ever made for the collection — and Chanel’s press spokeswoman said it was optioned for purchase while it still was being designed. Mademoiselle Privé watches, introduced in 2012, combine some of Chanel’s most recognizable motifs — including camellias, comets and details from Chanel’s own Coromandel screens — with métiers d’art techniques including embroidery, marquetry and grand feu enamel work.
So the Bouton group may be a kind of prelude to what next year will bring: In 2021, Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton No. 5, the house’s best-selling perfume, will turn 100. And its birth date? May 5, naturally.