It is said that Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel made her first trip to Venice in the 1920s, to mourn the death of her one true love, Boy Capel. While there, she became particularly taken by the rich Byzantine art which is found throughout the city and was particularly enthralled by the motif of the Lion which so prominently stood out in the city’s art and architecture.

Traditionally symbolising power, commanding attention, and representing leadership, the Lion also resonated with Chanel on a personal note, who was born under the Leo astrological sign, and was as determined as ever to make her mark in the fashion world.

The degree of Chanel’s love for lions remained largely undiscovered during her lifetime; as she built a brand grounded in simplicity and elegance. Only in the details of her design such as a button or a brooch, do we see the lion subtly manifest.

However, those who knew her and have been to her apartment above her atelier on 31 rue Cambon in Paris saw the collection of lion mementos scattered through her apartment – curiously enough – always in pairs. It is perhaps why the team behind the Chanel have chosen to honour their founder with the Sous le Signe du Lion collection.

The exquisite Lion Solaire necklace headlines the collection. Made from 321 brilliant-cut diamonds, 2 baguette-cut diamonds, 283 brilliant-cut yellow sapphires, 15 calibre-cut yellow sapphires, 4.7-carat square cushion-cut orange garnet, a 3.4 carat pear-cut orange garnet, 2 briliant-cut yellow bery, and its star attraction, an 18.3-carat corner cut rectangular orange topaz which sits underneath the lion’s chin, much like a royal medallion.

The necklace is set upon 18-karat white and yellow gold. The Lion Solaire necklace is anything but simple, though it is elegant in its own right. This is the item that will be most questioned by loyalists to the brand, but it is also the one which most embodies who Gabriele Chanel is as a person: a determined, shrewd Leo who did what it took to make a name for herself in the fashion world during her lifetime.

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