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The History of the Coco Chanel Camellia Flower

Chanel Flower Minaudiere

From jewelry, to pins, textile design and more, we’re all familiar with the Coco Chanel Camellia Flower. This symmetric and iconic motif exemplifies the house of Chanel to perfection, with its understated elegance and timeless appeal.

Legend has it that Camellias first peaked young Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s interest when, as a teenager, she saw a stage performance of Alexandre Dumas’ The Lady of the Camellias, with Sarah Bernhardt playing the leading role of Marguerite Gautier. Years later, Chanel’s lover Arthur “Boy” Capel would give her a bouquet of these flowers, rekindling her love for the bloom. And so, in 1913 Chanel started adorning herself with silk versions of the flower. Soon the motif was seen everywhere; including the Coromandel screens in her 31 Rue Chambon apartment and shop; the same shop Boy Capel helped her finance as Chanel Modes. The spectacular chandelier that hangs in her Paris apartment is also adorned with this flower, showing how much she enjoyed being surrounded by this stunning bloom, which surely reminded her of her lover, Boy.

Chanel Camellia Flower

The symbolism behind the Chanel Camellia Flower

Named after Father Georg Joseph Kamel and native of Eastern and Southern Asia, the Camellia symbolizes faithfulness and longevity, making them a popular choice for wedding bouquets. Also known as the Chinese rose of winter, the camellia blooms in the winter yet never loses its leaves. It is an unscented flower, which was another reason Mademoiselle Chanel preferred this flower over others, as it did not interfere with her signature scent, No. 5.

Camellias come in an array of colors, but white is the one most frequently recurring chez Coco. Today, the camellia continues to be reinterpreted in the house of Chanel. The flower has been produced in almost every single Chanel collection since the 1920s, and crafted from all sorts of imaginable materials: enamel, diamonds, rubies, and more. It’s a timeless emblem of the French maison.

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