To paraphrase the Daft Punk anthem One More Time, music’s got Arnaud Chastaingt feeling so free.
So for the first time, the director of Chanel’s watchmaking creation studio has refreshed the brand’s most popular timepieces with a single inspiration: electronic music and its influence in the ’90s.
“It’s transcended the frontiers of music and created an aesthetic culture,” he says. “I created this collection like a programme, inviting each of our classic styles to perform on scene, borrowing codes from this universe.”
Among the special releases for Electro is a box of seven Premiere Electro timepieces with neon-hued leather straps.
The result: Electro, a capsule of limited-edition horology novelties pulsating with the likes of neon accents, gem-studded robot motifs and indexes in gradient colours that hits boutiques on June 28.
(There’s also a playlist specially curated by French DJ Pedro Winter of Ed Banger/Justice fame released on Spotify and Apple Music to mark the occasion.)
Together with Chanel, FEMALE gets two aficionados of the music genre to get into the groove.
J12 Electro ceramic and steel watch, and (from left) Coco Crush rings in mini 18K yellow gold, mini 18K white gold, large 18K white gold, and small 18K yellow gold, Chanel Fine Jewellery. Wool blazer and denim jeans, Chanel. All other clothes and accessories, stylist’s own
How much is this 25-year-old into electronic music? The graphic designer worked in the design team for one of the world’s biggest EDM festivals for two years even though she admits to preferring a more progressive strain of the music genre.
She now applies her artistic talent to the same department at a multinational documentary and lifestyle-focused TV company. Still, the self-professed melophile regularly creates hyper-cool yet sophisticated visuals with a distinctively kinetic edge that’s often inspired by electronic music and its associated movements for leisure or independent commissions.
Premiere Electro steel watch with onyx cabochon crown, and metal chain and leather strap, and Coco Crush mini rings in 18K yellow gold (top) and 18K white gold, Chanel Fine Jewellery. Lambskin and metal belt, Chanel. All other clothes and accessories, stylist’s own
Head over to her personal portfolio on Instagram (@j.ane.co) to see a throbbing animation inspired by “all kinds of unseen energies” when she listens to Ellen Allien’s 2020 album Auraa guaranteed to heighten the euphoria when beamed on screen at an underground techno club.
Or a trendy cartoon dedicated to the fashionable deep house DJ Peggy Gou. Then there’s her 2018 series of illustrations of women in cyberpunk movies.
“Music goes hand in hand with design,” says the design and visual communications graduate from Goldsmiths in London. “And graphic design is similar to electronic music. It has many layers and starts with ideation, then research, then sketching, then you put everything on a computer and it all comes together.”
Code Coco Electro steel and calfskin watch with diamond. Top, stylist’s own
The 31-year-old artist Chew Wei Shan – better known as Weish – produces otherworldly, mellifluous tunes with a trance-inducing effect independently or as one-half of the music duo .gif that doesn’t quite fall into the mainstream idea of electronic music.
Then again she’s not the typical electronic musician – and certainly no DJ. She’s in fact classically trained, but calls the looper and a mini synth (think of these as electronic instruments) her “gateway” into the genre.
“Every acoustic instrument has its own set of rules and limitations, which is what makes them unique and beautiful,” she says. “But electronic music is this wild wild west of infinite possibility. You can literally generate any sound in your imagination by manipulating a singular sine wave. You can design or programme your own parameters and make your own personally customised instruments.”
BOY·FRIEND Electro steel watch with black spinel cabochon crown and diamonds on calfskin strap, Coco Crush 18K white gold pendant with diamonds and mini 18K yellow gold ring, Chanel Fine Jewellery. Wool blazer and cotton knit top, Chanel
It might explain why despite its unconventional sound, .gif – co-founded with Nurudin Sadali – got signed to the electronic music collective Syndicate quickly after it first started releasing its own self-produced tracks on Soundcloud eight years ago. Its sophomore album Hail Nothing was released by the underground outfit last year to much critical acclaim.
“I think some people picture electronic musicians as lazy bedroom musicians who just select from libraries of pre-made sounds and goof around pressing buttons,” says Chew of her practice and passion.
“While I think that’s true for some artists, there are plenty more who truly deep-dive into the infinite permutations of sound that electronic music can provide and create their own special thing: genre-bending sonic worlds that push the boundaries of modern music.”
KNOW YOUR CHANEL ELECTRO WATCHES
The perennially trendy J12 makes the perfect canvas for the electronic music theme with its glossy monochrome ceramic finish, leading to four variations within the Electro capsule.
Among them: an all-black J12 Calibre 12.1, which is fitted with Chanel’s exclusive self-winding movement, with the indexes on the dial and bezel in a gradient of 12 different colours, and limited to 1,255 pieces worldwide. How’s that for an electric feel?
Chastaingt’s unexpectedly fun update of Chanel’s feminine, Place Vendome-inspired Premiere watch sees him take the Chaine Triple Tour – or triple-looped strap – version; coat its case and chain bracelet in ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon) for a metallic black finish; then contrast it all with a neon rainbow leather strap woven through.
Equipped with a high-precision quartz movement, this special edition is limited to 555 pieces.
The Code Coco – Chanel’s distinctively cool answer to a jewellery watch with its cuff-like strap and innovative clasp inspired by that on the 2.55 handbag – gets a bold, youthful makeover with a matte fluorescent pink leather band with a black trim.
The effect: raver chic at its most tasteful. Did we add that there are just 255 pieces globally?
Giving the simple and timelessly polished BOY·FRIEND dress watch some cheeky “techno logic”: a pixelated motif of a robot set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds on the dial, inspired by the graphic design and digital art movement that often came hand in hand with electronic music in the ’90s.
Another 64 diamonds on the bezel and an electric pink lining on the quilted strap amp up the playful glamour. Total number of pieces available? A very exclusive 55.
Photography Stefan Khoo, assisted by Alif Videography Alicia Chong Styling Damian Huang, assisted by Yuan Kun Hair Sean Ang Makeup Sha Shamsi, using Chanel Manicure Zima/Auum The Honest Nail Spa
A version of this article first appeared in the July 2021 Dance edition of FEMALE