Chanel opened a major new Paris flagship on Thursday, combining three buildings, including a former 17th century convent, in a massive new retail space at 19 rue Cambon.
The giant 1,500 square-meter boutique, which spreads around the corner of Paris' busiest luxury thoroughfare, St Honoré, to rue Duphot and rue Cambon, with entrances on all three streets, is named 19 rue Cambon.
Chanel debuted the boutique with a soft opening, as editors and a few select clients surveyed the five-story space. Giant plate glass walls at the back reveal an interior where there grow camellias, Coco’s fetish flower.
In an intriguing work of engineering, the three buildings knit together varying ceiling heights and passages, into possibly the brightest Chanel store anywhere, affording views out onto the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption church and the more distant Tuileries.
Built on the exterior Oise, the classic honey-colored limestone of Paris, and finished inside with metallic carpets, blond Versailles parquet, lacquered dressing room walls, curtains embroidered by Lesage and beautiful crystal and gold lamps and sconces by Goossens, the couture jeweler and modernist design brand that Coco largely discovered, that the house now owns.
The store is also located just 50 meters from Chanel’s historic Paris headquarters at 31 rue Cambon, also the site of the studio of Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld, a building first acquired by Coco Chanel in 1918.
At 19 rue Cambon, architect Peter Marino injects visual punch with a series of art works and sculpture – from Carrera marble lions to a magnificent Coromandel screen, the elaborate Chinese partitions much loved by Coco.
Everything ultimately linked to a central chalk stone stairwell with vertical mirrors and a 14-meter high artwork by Gregor Hildebrandt made of steel and vinyl disks that looks like one long never-ending fan of Lagerfeld’s. All echoing the famed mirrored, Art Deco staircase of 31 rue Cambon, where Chanel often posed for photos, or sat at the top, the better to see her models walk below in couture shows.
“When my customers come to me, they like to cross the threshold of some magic place; they feel a satisfaction… that delights them: they are privileged characters who are incorporated into our legend... Legend is the consecration of fame,” said Mademoiselle Chanel back in 1935, summing up the mood of the house today, 47 years after her passing.
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