Coco Chanel: The Creator of Costume
An arbiter of style, most admired for her ability to liberate women through radical dress, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and her innovative designs have withstood the test of time. Coco’s impeccable creations, from the classic tweed suit to the little black dress, were a sharp contrast to the traditional and restrictive pieces that dominated popular fashion at the time. Her sporty silhouettes, emphasized by simple and soft lines, encouraged women to free their physical forms in an unprecedented way. After mastering the art of fashion and fragrance, Coco Chanel made opulent costume jewels her next endeavor. By combining faux and precious materials in an unprecedented way, Chanel costume jewelry, or bijouterie, would forever alter the course of fashion history.
Karl Lagerfeld: Channeler of Coco
Instead of abandoning her legacy for his own, Karl Lagerfeld considered himself the “channeler” of Coco. Embracing the iconic motifs of Chanel jewelry – from dripping pearls ropes to the Maltese cross – Karl Lagerfeld modernized the house’s designs, while ensuring that they remained recognizably Chanel. Imbued with a modern spirit, Lagerfeld’s earliest jewelry designs would remain his most iconic from the 1980s and 90s.
Vintage Chanel Earrings: Coveted For Contrast And Excess
Vintage Chanel costume earrings are best recognized for the visual interest created by their contrast and excess, which fit right in with the opulent designs of the 1980s and 90s. Often accompanied by a matching ring or cuff bracelet, Chanel earrings are the ideal finishing touch to any outfit. Though earrings started to become more of a focus of Chanel costume jewelry collections in the 1990s, interestingly, it wasn’t until the 2000s that the brand introduced pierced earring designs. Today, Lagerfeld’s Baroque-inspired clip-ons are coveted by the most dedicated vintage hunters.
Chanel’s Iconic Earring Motifs
From camellias and enamel CCs to the signature Maltese cross, motifs are Chanel’s precious source of inspiration. These iconic emblems largely began with Coco Chanel herself; namely, camellias were famously Mademoiselle's favorite flower, and the Maltese cross was a collaborative design between her and Sicilian aristocrat and jet-setting playboy, Duke Fulco di Verdura. Yet, it was Karl Lagerfeld who cemented these symbols as mainstay design elements, keeping the connection to Chanel’s eponymous founder alive. During his reign as creative director of Chanel, Lagerfeld adorned runway models in costume accessories from faux pearls to camellia flowers, using these historically rich designs as a natural extension of the collection’s garments.
Signature Styles of the Costume Earring
Highly sought-after for their unique and varied styles, Chanel costume earrings are one of a vintage hunter’s most treasured finds. From Baroque inspired nest clip-ons to the Pearl CC Drop design, these earrings can be anything from an outfit’s finishing touch to a show-stopping statement piece. Most vintage Chanel earrings are a variation of the clip-on. The stud clip-ons are recognized for their delicate beauty, often adorned with playful flowers and stars. The drop earring, with a dangling design in colored glass and pearl, tends to highlight the iconic interlocking CC design. Finally, the most dramatic variation is the statement earring, often in a chandelier style with dripping strands of natural stones and cultured pearls. Regardless of era or style, Chanel costume earrings are both glamorous and novel, creating visual interest through their contrast and excess.