“What do you have at breakfast?” “A camelia,” wryly responded Coco Chanel. While the anecdote may bring smiles, this woman’s passion for her camellias was no laughing matter. But where does this legend come from, the story of this lucky token? It’s said that everything started when, as a young girl, Gabrielle was swept off her feet by Sarah Bernard’s interpretation of the Dame aux Camélias, an ill-fated love story between a young bourgeois and tuberculosis-stricken courtisan Marguerite Gautier. With the formal simplicity of absolute white, the flower would remain firmly engrained in the Mademoiselle’s aesthetic spirit… Before becoming the flower of the demimondaine, the camellia was synonymous with purity and longevity in Asia. In the 19th century, Marcel Proust and dandies were known to pin a fresh camellia to the lining of their jackets. The trend was born as a sign of belonging to an elegant elite.
Like many other elements in the male wardrobe, Coco wasted no time in taking the camellia for herself to make pieces out of it, or an irresistible wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld today. Episode 16 of Inside Chanel tells all of this and more – the legend plays out as a short video compilation that’s focused on Gabrielle and her favorite flower. In 1923, she made it one of the key elements of her style by using it to light up a chiffon dress. The camellia would become her signature throughout the years. An embroidered or lace motif, engraved on buttons… it’s in the most precious of materials that this flower reveals all its perfection. Blossoming in sapphire, onyx, or ruby, the key element in Gabrielle’s universe is today without a doubt the Chanel flower. Discover it now in episode 16.