Call it the quiet before the storm: Naomi Campbell, in 1991, with Chanel pearls around her neck and wrist. Both would blow up that year. Campbell would land the cover of Time in an article called “Supermodels: Beauty and the Bucks.” And just weeks after this poolside photo was taken, Karl Lagerfeld would send these pearl pieces down the runway in one of Chanel’s most iconic shows—the so-called hip-hop/biker collection that editors would later deem one of the most pivotal in fashion history. Jewelry, belts, chains, and cuffs were styled like rapper fashions. In other words, piled on.
The pieces would go on to star in Peter Lindbergh’s “The Wild Ones” for Vogue, another memorable spread that, of course, starred the supermodels. Amid the motorcycle jackets and biker boots were Chanel necklaces, belts, and cuffs. If you followed the trends in 1991, either you had these pieces or you copied them. Chanel jewelry, which had been around since 1932 when Coco Chanel created her diamond and platinum Bijoux de Diamants collection, became an integral part of the business; two years later, the house unveiled its first fine jewelry division.