Three Chicago Tastemakers Showcase Chanel's Coco Crush Collection

By Stephen Ostrowski | May 1, 2018 | Style & Beauty Feature


As these Windy City influencers prove, Chanel has delivered an instant classic with Coco Crush.

Icons aren’t born overnight—but with its recently released Coco Crush collection, Chanel is speeding up the process, transposing the French fashion house’s inimitable quilted pattern on lithe, stackable bangles, diamond-dappled earrings and other bold baubles that are both classic and au courant. Take it from three local fashionistas, who recently gave the collection a whirl. “I tend to gravitate toward pieces where [if] I saw them in 10 or 15 years—or can imagine them 15 years [ago]—would they look relevant,” reflects uber-stylish photographer Maria Ponce Berre. “Coco Crush is on the money when it comes to that.”

Indeed, it’s as easy to imagine the white, beige and yellow gold stunners covering vintage glossies as it is to forecast them on myriad Instagram feeds this season, reflecting an enduring design and informed functionality essential for today’s well-heeled tastemaker. “You want to build a fashion wardrobe that’s timeless, but hints at whatever is going on currently,” notes Sasha Adler, design director at Nate Berkus Associates, adding, “[Jewelry] that mixes well—whether you’re going to a black-tie benefit or something really casual—is important. This collection has that ability.”

That dress-it-up, dress-it-down versatility appeals to Angela Brantley, co-owner, and creative director of hip womenswear line Hero/Black: “I love classics, but wearing them in a different way with a youthful, street edge,” she explains, “which is why I love this collection—there's so many things you can mix and match.”

As they step into spring in high style, Ponce Berre, Adler and Brantley dish on the importance of forging a unique style, share their respective fashion icons and more with Michigan Avenue.

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They wear it well: From opulent earrings to craveworthy cuffs and other luxe accessories, Chicago influencers Maria Ponce Berre, Angela Brantley and Sasha Adler showcase Chanel’s Coco Crush collection in striking style.

How does your personal style play a part in your professional life?
MARIA PONCE BERRE: It all starts from within, [with] your own internal confidence…Often, when I’m working or going on a shoot, I always try to be understated, with just a pop of something—I never want to overshadow a subject, because it’s all about them to me. At the same time, you want to be presented or looked at in a certain [way] that [says], “Oh, she can tell me what to do because she clearly has a sense of fashion, style, taste.”

ANGELA BRANTLEY: Everything revolves around that for me. Developing my own personal style had to come first. Everything we make is because we wanted to wear it; we wished it was something that we could find in a store. I put a lot of effort into curating my closet and having pieces that I love…Having your own personal style draws people in and makes you feel confident.

SASHA ADLER: Style is just a part of who I am. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with clothing and design. I always think it’s kind of strange when someone’s into fashion but not interiors, or into art but not fashion; they’re all so intertwined. I think they’re sometimes reflective of one another; for instance, I’ve had clients approach me because they like my fashion and want me to do their house. I think it’s a way of earning trust from a professional standpoint and way of expressing how you have the creativity to mix different things.

How do you use style to connect with people?
MPB: For me, I use fashion as a way to be perceived as someone who has good taste, who you can trust and, if somebody came to me, I would hope they say “Oh my gosh, you look put together. Tell me how you got that way.” If you’re shooting me, I’m going to trust you taking my own portrait because I see the way you dress and you’re not going to make me look like a fool.

AB: It’s just an everyday thing—I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve met someone on the street and they just had their own individual style that was so striking to me that I struck up a conversation and made some great friends and contacts that way. That plays into my job a lot.

SA: Style is a way of expression; it’s sort of a nonverbal way of expressing your tastes. A lot of times people ask me to describe my aesthetic and I think it’s a really difficult thing to put into words [because] it’s not always consistent—it can veer more traditional, it can veer more modern; it’s always a mix of different aspects. It’s not straight one thing, and that’s how I approach clothing, and that’s how I approach interiors.

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Who were your style icons growing up?
MPB: Growing up, it was a mix between Sophia Loren and Grace Jones. I love the classic, but I love a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll. I love Grace Jones’s complete disregard for what people thought of her, in such a way that was almost shocking, but it was more like she was an artist from the second she walked out of wherever she was to her performance, and she became an icon in that way. I always looked up to that, that fearlessness she had.

AB: So many: Grace Jones, Bianca Jagger; I’m obsessed with anything Erykah Badu wears. Michele Lamy. Those are probably my top four. They’re all so strong in whatever they wear, and wear it with such a commanding presence. You can’t let the clothes wear you—they just dominate whatever they’re wearing.

SA: From a young age I was obsessed with Madonna…She really had her own voice back in the eighties when I was growing up. Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy is my end-all-be-all style icon even still. She was so classic and so modern and still had her own voice, and the fact that the way she dressed still resonates today is so unbelievable.

The Coco Crush collection takes iconic designs but filters them through a contemporary lens in a way that feels fresh and modern. How do you forge a classic style that’s still fresh at the same time?
MPB: I’m always about clean lines, and whatever I’m wearing needs to be functional—you should see some of the positions I get in to be a photographer!....I always tell my clients that come in [that ask] “What should I wear?” [to] wear something that in ten years you’ll look back on and go, “Great choice.”….[With Coco Crush], they’ve got that longevity, that classic timeless beauty that I think is so important when you’re choosing pieces that you want to live with all the time.

AB: I feel like I’m at that age when classics are really important to me. I love this collection because there's so many things that you can mix and match. I love wearing classics but then putting a twist on it with statement pieces or statement outerwear.

SA: With furniture and with clothing, you build a wardrobe or a baseline of classics and then you mix in pieces that have more personality or speak more to the era that they come from. I always have a hard time when people say “What are the current design trends?” when it comes to interiors, because, to me, an interior is something that should be totally timeless and not something that you’re like “Oh, this color is something that was so 2018.” Something like that.

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What is your favorite piece from the Crush collection?
MPB: The bangles, the bracelets; I love stacking them, I love mixed metals...I love wearing bracelets, I love the way they feel on my wrist; they don’t get in the way when I shoot. I sort of put them on and I don’t think about them again. And I love stacking and layering them...
I feel like I could put any of these pieces on, and I could change my outfit from working to going out to an evening event, and it would all look good; it would elevate anything that I was wearing in that way.

AB: The rings; I’m obsessed–I love the etchings, I love how they make a statement, but they’re things you can wear everyday. If I had these, I would just never take them off. They’re so beautiful [and] easy to wear.

SA: I love the earring cuff that’s composed of the three different pieces; I love the rings, I love the ability to stack it and mix it, especially with someone’s current wardrobe. It’s amazing on its own, but it also works really well with whatever else someone has in their current collection.

What is your advice to young professionals?
MPB: The number one thing I would tell anyone coming up, whether it’s artistic or in the business field, is authenticity….If you truly are authentic and true to yourself and not trying to be somebody you’re not, people will respect that—and not only that, but you’ll respect yourself and, therefore, feel really good about who you are.

AB: Take the time while you’re young to figure out exactly what you’re really passionate about and what resonates with you and then just tackle it. Experiment with your own style.

SA: Do something that you really love. When you do something that you really truly love and are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work….I love what I’m doing, so if it’s Sunday and I have the afternoon off—which isn’t frequent with three little kids—I’m looking through a design magazine or I’m pulling out an old book on interiors. It’s not work to me.

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