One of the most instantly recognizable emblems in all of Chanel’s accessories, clothing and jewellery, is the frequently recurring Camellia.
Karl Lagerfeld once told Vogue that Chanel has “strong icons such as the tweed jacket, the little black dress, the two-tone shoes, the camellia, that transcend time and are regularly reinterpreted”.
How did the camellia become such an integral part of one of the most, if not the most, successful fashion houses in the world?
Coco and the Camellia
Coco Chanel first fell in love with the camellia after reading Alexandre Dumas’ ‘La Dame aux Camélias’, a story in which the heroine always wore a white camellia, showing to the world that her heart remained pure. It was also loved by Chanel because, when wearing the flower, its lack of scent meant it never interfered with her most famous perfume – No. 5.
The camellia’s emblematic value was also important. In Eastern culture, the camellia has always remained the emblem of longevity and purity, and was thought by Buddhists to drive away bad spirits.
Chanel’s personal love of the Camellia, aside from uses in fashion, jewellery etc., is clear to see in her rue Cambon private apartment. The camellia features on chandeliers and stunningly ornate Coromandel screens – making the camellia more than just a fashion logo.
Since the Twenties the camellia has featured heavily in Chanel designs – it appears regularly on the iconic little black dress, embroidered on a blouse, or simply embellished in the beading of Chanel shoes.
Chanel and the Camellia today
The Camellia has certainly not been lost in the designs of Chanel today. Maison Lemarié, the Atelier d’art, now owned by Chanel, still creates these beautiful camellias. Each petal is cut into a heart shape, crimped and then put together – a process taking 40 minutes per Camellia.
Similarly, the Camellia also features in a range of lambskin pouches and wallets, as decoration on sunglasses, and finally in the gloriously decadent Chanel Camélia jewellery collection, totalling 72 pieces.
Camellias can be tricky to grow as they only thrive in acidic soils, making soil management rather tricky. In order to eliminate this entirely however, they can always be grown in pots, filled with ericaceous compost.
They are best suited to shady areas, and free draining soil – adding organic matter to compost can help hugely with this.Blooming in late winter but usually in spring, many white camellias evoke Chanel’s designs.
Source: THE TELEGRAPH