Look from the Chanel Fall/Winter 2011 haute-couture runway

“Karl has a huge sense of the power of the history and legacy of Chanel,” Picardie says. “But there’s something very magical that goes with it, and that is he has such a great talent for bringing it alive again. Instead of treating every idea or every reference like it should be a museum piece, he breathes new life into them and makes them feel modern. He treats the apartment in much the same way, as a living, breathing, working space.”

Forty years after her death, why does Coco Chanel—at one time the most famous woman in the world, who desired nothing more than to live a quiet life within a few blocks of a famed Parisian square—maintain a persona that continues to fascinate? Ultimately, it’s a magic and mystery that can take on uniquely individual meanings. Back at the high-jewelry presentation in the Place Vendôme boutique, Comar picks up another of the Contrastes pieces, the Etoile du Nord brooch, a starburst of diamonds totaling more than 15 carats mixed with moonstones, opals, and motherof- pearl, all set in 18k white gold. “You know Superman, yes?” he says with a smile as he holds aloft this mélange of clear and opaque, smooth and jagged stones. “I look at this and I think of ice in the Arctic, or where Superman might have lived.” Comar positions the brooch against the lapel of a black jacket. “Wear this, and you can fly….”

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