On Wednesday, the new CHANEL store opens its doors; it’s moved up the road from Old Bond Street to New Bond Street. Usually, I am the last person in the world to get excited about a new store, but I’ve got to concede that this is something special. I almost had a teary moment (more about that further down) which was very unexpected.
Kicking off with the most monumental twisting pearl necklace sculpture that is a spectacular feat of engineering, never mind glass blowing. Made from Murano glass and put together in store, it is designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel and literally goes floor to ceiling (of 3 floors).
If there’s a theme that runs through the store, it’s Mademoiselle Chanel’s Paris apartment that I visited a few weeks ago. If you read that post, you’ll see on the table in this picture, a lion sculpture (with a spookily human face), a glass ball and of course, a Coromandel screen, all reflecting the interior of the Chanel apartment. There are many references to the apartment throughout the store (which is huge, by the way). There are a lot of seating areas – all the sofas are decorated in classic Chanel style tweed, often flecked with gold sparkle (kind of a new sofa covering standard.. I hardly want to sit on anything else now!).
White flowers, exactly as Mademoiselle Chanel would have wished are carefully placed throughout.
Again, if you remember the apartment post, you may remember Mademoiselle Chanel’s superstitious nature; everything in pairs…
So, moving on to why I nearly had a teary moment. I grew up in Scotland where my Dad ran a textile mill making fine tweeds that sold across the world. He even managed an award for services to the export industry and we didn’t see much of him as he travelled the world with his Scottish tweeds.
However, the Scottish tweed industry has been decimated in more recent years; I grew up to the sound of clacking textile looms, know the difference between a warp and a weft and understand the tweed-making process from the wool yard to the garment. I’ve seen wool washed, dyed, re-washed, re-dyed, woven to into skeins and onto giant spindles to be fed into giant looms, eventually becoming fine tweed bought by the likes of Bill Gibb, Caroline Charles and Bruce Oldfield to turn into magnificent clothes. I can remember how to measure and cut the exact amount from a bolt of tweed to turn into a gentleman’s three piece suit and can even still remember the hot, wet-washing smell of the mill. The nature of throw-away fashion meant cheap cloth imports (the Scottish cashmere industry has also suffered greatly) and the trend for clothes that last a long time disappeared. With it, went livelihoods, generations of men and women who’d worked with wool in one capacity or another now had to look for work outside of the industry that had sustained them for decades. It was a horrible time; the tiny, countryside town where I lived lost all but one of its mills leaving a previously unknown unemployment crisis in its wake. Obviously, the farming industry was greatly effected as well – no need for the meat by-product of wool meant less sheep, less shepherding, labouring and farming jobs. Then what happens is that people have to move away for work ensuring that rural communities and families become fractured. Devastating.
So, to see that CHANEL has embraced the tweed and cashmere industries that were the lifeblood of Scotland (CHANEL recently bought an ailing Scottish cashmere mill to make all their cashmere pieces) until recent times is actually quite emotional, because it will literally regenerate a dying industry. The knock-on from that is more jobs, a better economy and a resurgence of artisan skills within the wool industry. All this from Karl Lagerfeld’s vision of reinventing tweed. Sorry, but it’s nothing short of wonderful. I will never call Choupette stupid again.
So, back to the store, and more importantly for this blog, the beauty offering.
The beauty area is spacious and interlinked with fashion. Often the two are kept separate but there are fashion references throughout the space.
I like this inter-linking. I suspect that we probably all wish that we had the funds for the bags and not just the lipstick but in fact the weaving in of accessories rams home that our favourite CHANEL lipstick is part of the bigger picture.
All the fragrances you could ever want are right here!
Note the larger than life Les Vernis bottles and also the super-sized lipsticks.
Even the accessories have a revamped tweed accent – a neon tweed bracelet.. yep. I could do that! (but not those sunglasses.)
I totally fell for these, I must admit..
And, er, well… basically pretty much everything.
The store is bursting with artworks from sculptors and artists all the way through as well as a beautifully curated selection of antiques. The concept of the store has been brought to life by New York architect Peter Marino, and I cannot recommend visiting it highly enough. Don’t be intimidated by the doormen, the logos, nothing.. it’s genuinely more than a shop and so worth seeing. I’ll leave you with this, a sculpture by Donald Baechler reworking the emblematic camellia.
*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.