These couturiers’ superstitions live on, long after they’re gone.
ANNABELLE FERNANDEZ Associate Editor
THE CHARMED ONES
In the book Recipes for Good Luck, Ellen Weinstein writes and illustrates about “the superstitions, rituals and practices of extraordinary people”. From Beyoncé to Frida Kahlo to Winston Churchill, it’s almost a relief to know that even the most other-worldly among us are mere mortals who believe in an assortment of quirky practices, each more bizarre than the next. Of course, in the world of fashion, it’s not a revelation that designers are a superstitious lot— there’s a reason why Susan Miller is often referred to as the industry’s go-to astrologer—but for these two couturiers in particular, their superstitions have gone on to inform their House’s lasting legacies.
From left: A lion sculpture formed the backdrop of Chanel’s haute couture fall/winter 20 set. Chanel N°5 EDP set. Chanel N°5 EDP. Gold, lapis lazuli and diamond Lion Médaille ring, Chanel. Coco Chanel. Brooch, $560, Dioror.
CO CO CHANEL
Mademoiselle Chanel’s talismans are an intrinsic part of the Chanel universe. Take the number five, which is said to have been her lucky number: Not only is it the name of her most famous fragrance, she also often showed her collections on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year. The designer custom-made a crystal chandelier with arches twisted into the number five for her apartment, which was filled with other symbols of luck and prosperity, most notably crystal balls and lion sculptures. Born under the astrological sign of Leo, Chanel felt a keen affinity with the majestic creature. The association continues across all arms of the brand: A monolithic sculpture of a lion holding a pearl was the centrepiece of Chanel’s haute couture fall/winter 2010 set; and the motif has been incorporated into both its high jewellery (the permanent Sous le Signe du Lion collection) and beauty (the limited-edition Collection Libre holiday 2018 collection) lines.
Christian Dior. A dresesss from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s ﬁrst collection for Dior, with the number eight and a tarot symbol woven into its design.
Monsieur Dior was a true believer. He regularly consulted Madame Delahaye, a clairvoyant who advised him on decisions big and small. He was fascinated by tarot cards, and had his cards read before every show. He was fond of the number eight, which was the name of a line in his debut spring 1947 collection, before Harper’s BAZAAR editor Carmel Snow christened it “New Look”. And, he trusted in talismans that he believed guided his destiny: Lily-of-the-valley, which he used to sew into the hem of each of his creations; four-leaf clovers, part of a cluster of charms he kept in his pocket; and stars, which he saw as a spiritual aid ever since stumbling across one while making an important decision. His beloved totems live on in all forms: Lily-of-the-valley has been used in perfumes and on clothing for decades; while Maria Grazia Chiuri has utilised tarot symbols as a motif since her first collection for the brand, which also included the number eight and four-leaf clovers woven throughout the designs.
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