The Story behind Chanel’s Camellia Flower

Did you ever wonder why is there always a white flower found in all Chanel’s packaging and some of the designs?

Contrary to popular belief, the white flower is not a rose or anything vaguely related to the family of rose.

The white flower is actually the Camellia flower, a member of the Theaceae (tea) family. Camellia’s flower was a garden treasure in China long before the flower was introduced to Western civilization. It is actually originated in southern and eastern Asia and brought to Europe in the 18th Century.  Camellias are known as "tea flower", or 茶花 in Chinese. The flower itself is one of the few that will open in the cold of winter months and comes in equally rich yet delicate colors ranging from deep reds to pinks to the purest of whites.

Camellia Flower
Camellia Flower

Story goes was that Coco Chanel received a bouquet of Camellias from the love of her life, Boy Capel, back in 1912. Needless to say she was already besotted with Capel but she was also infatuated with the flower he introduced her to & which came to represent their love. The blossom not only symbolized purity & implied a sort of fragility, its elegant roundness with visible perfection in its geometrical petals give the flower an effortless allure & simple beauty. Camellia appealed to Chanel’s taste of provocation due to its reference as the forbidden flower, both androgynous and ambiguous.

Coco Chanel started pinning silk versions to her lapels, her hair and the blossoms found a home on the black-and-gold-laquered Coromandel screens in her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Soon after, Camellia became Coco’s symbol, her icon, one of her most celebrated inspirations and have continued to live on as the second most recognize Chanel icon (apart from the official Chanel logo).

“The seeming simplicity of a masterpiece is sure proof of its grace.”

— Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

In Asia, Camellia represents purity and longevity and in Japan its name means “excellence without pretension”.

So very Chanel.

Chanel's Camelia Flower
Chanel's Camelia Flower

Do you also know?

The Camellia is the plant from which Earl Grey and other popular teas are made.

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