Rare vintage Chanel jewelry designed by Karl Lagerfeld will be sold for the first time in an upcoming auction at Christie’s.
The necklaces, earrings, bracelets and more — many emblematic of Lagerfeld’s extravagant take on the Chanel house codes — had belonged to Susan Gutfreund, a close confidant of Lagerfeld’s who was gifted runway samples and unique jewelry pieces throughout their friendship. The jewelry is part of a larger auction of treasures from the Gutfreund household, to take place on Christie’s website from Jan. 14 to 29.
Items include heart-shaped drop earrings with Chanel’s interlocking “CC” logo in rhinestones, matching hair combs with green stones and a suite including earrings and a matching oversize necklace with faux pearls and ivy leaf-shaped enamel embellishments.
All of the vintage Chanel pieces to be auctioned are considered costume jewelry, and therefore do not include any precious metals or gems. But Christie’s estimates that each lot will fetch somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000, a high value that Christie’s jewelry specialist Claibourne Poindexter chalks up to how “they are at once iconic of the era and yet esoteric at the same time. You can get a great sense of Karl Lagerfeld’s sense of fun, whether it is a pair of earrings shaped like fine French silver plates or simulating antique wax seals. It is impossibly brilliant and cheeky at the same time.”
The jewelry, in Poindexter’s opinion, are relics of a bygone era in luxury fashion, predating global mass production.
“These jewels provide a window into the world of haute couture in the 1980s and 1990s, where the level of detail and thought of design put into each jewel is something that truly resonates with that time,” she said. “These jewels represent a time where fashion was fun and could be over the top in the greatest way possible. These pieces will always remain an extremely important in terms of the history of 20th-century fashion and fashion jewelry design.”
Many pieces in the collection are unsigned, or without a Chanel label marker, because they were one-off items created for runway shows or hand-made as prototypes. For this, Poindexter considers Gutfreund’s pieces, “the greatest single owner collection of Lagerfeld-era Chanel jewelry to be presented at auction. Almost all of the Chanel fashion jewelry that we see on the market today was created and sold at retail by Chanel for an end consumer, whereas the majority of the jewels in Mrs. Gutfreund’s collection were created as prototypes and, in some cases, are one-of-a-kind examples completely fabricated by hand and worn on the runway in Paris.”