I had the rare and extremely amazing privilege to visit to the Parisian apartment of the founder and creator of the brand Chanel, Gabrielle Bonheur Coco Chanel!!!
I would never have thought a Cape Town girl like myself, would get THIS opportunity!
I’ve always been a fan of the brand, the clothes and its style philosophy on fashion for the modern woman.
Today, Coco Chanel is simply known as Chanel and is lead by creative director and head designer, Karl Lagerfeld.
In the heart of Paris
The apartment is situated in the centre of Paris, on Rue Cambon near the famous Rue St. Honore which has all the famous brands on every corner. It’s super busy with shoppers getting their designer fix!
The apartment building also houses an atelier, a boardroom and the very offices of The Fashion Kaiser himself, Karl Lagerfeld.
The first floor
The place is tightly secured with many bodyguards. We were welcomed by our warm and friendly guide who would be showing us around the place.
On entering the bottom floor you are overwhelmed by the infamous mirrored staircase which has reflected numerous classic and modern Chanel shows over the decades. There is still an area in which an audience can sit to view runways, and further in across the hall is the atelier. The room also serves as a meeting place for events and exhibitions. There were still some of the giant ‘paper forest’ pieces from the previous f/w 2015 ready-to-wear show in the hallway.
Up the mirrored stairs…
On the second floor, behind big mahogany doors, lied Chanel’s infamous apartment. Many still draw inspiration from the interior’s design and deco which was all done by the Madame herself.
She was still an old lady, so naturally it’s filled with a plethora of collected items and bric-a-brac that have now become antiques.
She loved collecting lacquered furniture and ornaments from the Far East, and can be seen in every room which contrasts with Roman/Grecian antique items and classic art works.
There’s also the amazing gifts she received from her former lovers, and many interesting stories of all the famous guests who have visited that very apartment, including the surrealist artist, Dali.Each item had a story to tell, as the guide said, Chanel was highly superstitious and believed a lot in symbology. Therefore she loved to decorate her surroundings in relation to those beliefs.
There is one thing unique about this apartment, and it is that there is no bedroom to sleep in. Coco Chanel never slept in this apartment. It was her personal space to work, receive guests and live in by day while she worked on her collections and prepared runways shows downstairs.
The mirrored stairs was her design and idea, as the wanted guests to be able to view every aspect and side of the clothes. It also served as a great way for her to sit on the stairs and spy on the guests and see their reactions to her work!
Where did she sleep?
Madame Chanel had a private room at the Ritz Hotel down the road. It was said she didn’t want to feel alone and preferred to be among the company of others.
She stayed here until she retired at her private chateau in the countryside.
Sadly, I didn’t get a glimpse of The Karl himself coming down for a coffee break. However, I was more than happy for this experience alone.
Quite nothing does it like walking down that awesome flight of stairs and and feeling fabulous!