Chanel: Costume jewelry trailblazer

Mixing the high with the low is common practice in fashion today. But it was considered radical when Chanel introduced costume jewelry to her collections, turning something considered cheap and tacky into a symbol of modern style (though her early rival Paul Poiret should be credited with pioneering the trend).”

A woman should mix fake and real,” Chanel once declared. “The point of jewelry isn’t to make a woman look rich but to adorn her; not the same thing.”

In the early 1930s, she collaborated with Italian jeweler Duke Fulco de Verdura to create what would become her iconic Maltese Cross cuffs, adorned with multicolored semi-precious stones.

By the end of that decade, she was releasing signature necklaces made of dangling, dainty chains, and intertwined with faux pearls and glittering stones. More layered strings of fake pearls followed — worn proudly by Chanel herself — and a trend was born.

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