Make no mistake, women in Hollywood believe in the power of gemstones and jewelry. That was evident from the red carpet for Chanel’s “1932” dinner in West Hollywood on Thursday, designed to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the iconic house’s inaugural high-jewelry collection. “I have a smoky quartz in this bag,” noted Tick, Tick … Boom! star Alexandra Shipp, with a nod toward the black quilted vanity case on her arm. “I believe in the idea of gemstones raising your vibration and energy, so I always try to have something with me or on me.”
Marion Cotillard, a Chanel No. 5 ambassador since February 2020, agreed that energy can be divined from a treasured jewel. “There’s something very intimate about jewelry, and when I put on a piece, I always do it with an intention,” the Oscar winner explained before pointing to the Chanel ring she was wearing, designed in a comet-and-stars motif and crafted of diamonds, black ceramic and white gold. “When I put this on tonight, I thought, when I see this ring, I’m going to remember to breathe. There’s a wonderful cosmic aspect and energy we can receive from moments like this. It’s also fascinating because it’s a bit mysterious.”
Gabrielle Chanel, a devoted fan of astrology and the cosmos, would have approved of such an idea. The legendary couturier created the concept of high jewelry in 1932, and Thursday night’s dinner and exhibition at West Hollywood’s The Lot on Formosa gathered a variety of L.A. women — including Jurnee Smollett, Kaitlyn Dever, Chloé Zhao, Andra Day, Rainey Qualley, poet Cleo Wade and Baby2Baby co-CEO Kelly Sawyer Patricof — to celebrate 90 years of a concept that wasn’t only about designing the ne plus ultra of jewels, but also the woman herself and the notion that high jewelry was another way a woman could feel free to express her individuality.
“I love the idea that the inspiration for this collection spans almost a century — how incredible is that?” said The Morning Show’s Greta Lee. “When you consider how radical it was that women [in the early 20th century] had to subscribe to some sort of code about what they wore, but Chanel freed them from that and encouraged them to do and wear what they wanted. Tonight’s exhibition is a modern interpretation of those ideas, and I really appreciate that.”
The 77-piece anniversary collection, aptly dubbed “1932,” harkened back to that original moment with its emphasis on all things celestial, one of Gabrielle Chanel’s favorite themes. Designed by Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel’s Fine Jewelry Creative Studio, these high jewels offered an updated take on the couturier’s long-ago inspirations, from a Comète necklace crafted in sapphires and diamonds to a newly released “Soleil” grouping resembling sunbursts of stones that included yellow and white diamonds, rubies, yellow sapphires and garnets.
And if a jewelry stand was devoid of its intended piece, that was likely because it was in one of the adjoining rooms for a private moment with a client. “I may be looking for something to wear to our upcoming gala,” Sawyer Patricof hinted, noting that Baby2Baby’s upcoming Nov. 12 gala will honor Kim Kardashian. “Another strong woman, like Chanel herself and the women we see tonight,” she added. “Kim has given so much to Baby2Baby and children in need, so it’s going to be a great night.”
Many women indeed were present to admire both the jewels and each other, while also sharing personal stories about what the label means to them. “There was a time in my career when I was feeling a lot of pressure, and that’s when I discovered Chanel’s clothes in Paris,” said Zhao, who’s in the midst of working on her high-profile Dracula project for Universal. “Those clothes really felt like armor to me when I needed to go and face a lot of things. It was a very important moment for me, so I feel a very personal connection.”
Asking about each woman’s personal approach to jewelry also spawned a variety of answers. Qualley loves the nostalgia and stories behind the pieces she owns — “Something passed down to me by my mother or given to me by my father,” she said — while Smollett embraces a maximalist, “more is more” style. “I’m the one always asking my stylist, ‘Can we do a necklace, earrings, rings and a bracelet? And maybe something on the ankle and a belly chain?’” the Lovecraft Country star said with a laugh. “Anywhere I can put a piece of jewelry, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Andra Day, meanwhile, said she’s in the midst of a transition in how she wears jewelry. “Before it was all about stacking, stacking, stacking, and that Chanel rule of taking off one piece before you leave the house,” said Day, who’s currently working on The Deliverance, co-starring Glenn Close and directed by Lee Daniels. “But right now I’m feeling all about the idea of essence. That’s one of the things I love about Chanel jewelry, that it’s about this great combination of simplicity and innovation. But yes, I’m just feeling different about jewelry at the moment; isn’t that amazing how that happens?”
That’s surely another notion that would have been met with approval by the woman whose spirit was in the air and among the diamonds on Thursday evening. “I just love the fact that she was so ahead of her time in a field that up to that time had been occupied mainly by men,” Smollett said. “She took women out of their corsets, made the clothing and the fabrics more comfortable, and taught women that they could be elegant at any moment.”
Shipp, soon to enjoy her own high-wattage moment in next summer’s highly anticipated Barbie movie, agreed. “There’s something about a woman who rises in her field, takes it over and then changes it,” she added. “That’s something I want to do when I grow up.”
At the end of the night, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fronted by lead singer Karen O — who just released Cool It Down, their first album in nine years — performed for the glittering crowd.
Scroll on for more images from the Chanel “1932” dinner.