This November the rue Cambon, Chanel’s legendary address, welcomes a new boutique at number 19. The House has restored and transformed three historic buildings to create one 1000m2 space, dedicated to the entire Chanel universe: Ready-to-Wear, accessories, watches and fine jewelry, perfume and beauty. Initiated in January 2016, this project was designed by New York based architect Peter Marino and is a veritable architectural, technical and artistic feat, located on the rue Saint-Honoré, rue Duphot and rue Cambon.
From 31 to 19 rue Cambon
Built at the end of the 18th century, 31 rue Cambon was bought on February 7th 1918 by Gabrielle Chanel. The designer’s first acquisition, this four-storied building was originally a townhouse, opening with a porch and complete with a façade pierced by five asymmetric windows. Quickly she commenced building work with the help of Louis Faure-Dujarric, known for constructing town houses and major sporting facilities, including the center court at Roland-Garros. Gabrielle Chanel’s taste for a more modern and graphic aesthetic meant the Art Deco style was her natural choice. Her sense of the avant-garde was, as ever, spot on: the artistic trend was just beginning to flourish when she decided to showcase it to the world. She straightened the attics on the 4th floor and asked architect Pierre Figarol to erect a fifth floor. From then on, the boutique on the ground floor, the famous Art Deco mirrored staircase and the Haute Couture salons on the first floor, Mademoiselle Chanel’s private apartment on the second, the studio on the third, and the Haute Couture ateliers on the fourth and fifth floors would become the epicenter of Chanel. And the rue Cambon its privileged surroundings: n°29 was acquired in April 1923, n°25 in April 1926, and n°27 and n°23 in October 1927. The advent of Ready-to-Wear in 1978 as well as the arrival of Karl Lagerfeld in 1983, confirmed rue Cambon’s status as Chanel’s quintessential address.
A mythical place, a number, 31, and a street known worldwide, synonymous with luxury and French savoir-faire. Under the impetus of the designer, today Chanel is extending its aura over the rue Cambon by opening a second boutique. A fashion showcase that perfectly adheres to the importance of offering customers a unique experience: “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.”* affirmed Gabrielle Chanel in 1935.
19 rue Cambon
Now, finally, the boutique at n°19 perfects this remarkable ensemble with its rich history and architecture. Almost three years of building work have been necessary to complete this edifice built in the shape of a back-to-front L. The main 18th century listed building on the rue Saint-Honoré has been joined with a former 17th century convent. In rue Duphot, a 19th century building joins the listed “Élément pittoresque de la Ville de Paris” façade with a small annex. This new address is completed by an interior courtyard. The different architectural styles, the numerous structures and frameworks, each quite distinct, along with the heights and foundations of each individual building had to be defied in order to unify this incongruous and unique space. Wooden beams were removed and then reinstalled on the concrete structure, and original stones were reintegrated to preserve the historical elements of the three buildings. The colors, the woodwork and the facades have been designed in accordance with L’Architecte des Bâtiments de France to ensure that the history of this group of buildings is respected as closely as possible. For architect Peter Marino it was vital that the typically Parisian architecture should be preserved. The building must be able to tell its story, and implicitly that of Paris and of Chanel. With the opening of n°19, the rue Cambon beats even more to the rhythm of Chanel, its two boutiques answering and complimenting each other perfectly.
Starting with the exterior, the facades in Oise stone express the desire to pay tribute to an exceptional heritage and savoir-faire. Inside the boutique, a Versailles parquet and ironwork made by artisans, curtains embroidered by the House of Lesage along with elements fashioned by Goossens all accentuate the Parisian and French spirit of the space. From the ground floor up to the fourth floor, everywhere is bathed in natural light, the brilliance of which is further emphasized through the use of white and three shades of beige, accompanied by black, gold and metallic notes. Limestone, stucco, blond parquet, khaki woodwork, enameled gold textured plasterwork and metallic fabrics, combinations of carpets…The overall effect is both graphic and pure, magnified by the luxurious materials, used in their most simple form, without artifice. Various ceiling heights (from 2.5 meters to 3.7 meters) form a harmony of arches and changing volumes.
Accessed via the rues Saint-Honoré and Duphot, 19 rue Cambon presents the entire Chanel universe, from fashion and beauty to watches and jewelry. The ground floor opens onto the shoe, leather goods and accessory collections. As a continuation of the historical stone façade, the floors are paved with limestone, bringing the outside, inside. On the walls, stucco worked in the manner of a weaving adopts Gabrielle Chanel’s favorite wheat color, in a metallic gold. The second entrance on rue Duphot leads into the Beauty space, home to all the House perfumes in an alcove salon imagined like a cabinet of curiosities, while the make-up and skincare are deployed over the wall in a graphic orchestration of black, white and mirrors. An original feature, the majestic staircase in limestone has been fully restored, its walls swathed in juxtaposing mirrors echoing the legendary staircase at 31 rue Cambon. Finally, a vestibule houses an elevator in black, ivory and metallic woven metal. Moving up through the floors, the atmosphere becomes more intimate and hushed. The first floor, where stone becomes parquet, is lengthened by a terrace overlooking the garden: a sense of calm silences the bustle of the city. Here we peacefully discover the bags, the small leather goods, the costume jewelry and other accessories. The white and grey armchairs and the tall chairs in tweed are an invitation to spend time trying on the latest watchmaking and jewelry creations, to slip on a scarf or a pair of sunglasses, and to enjoy the space in a relaxed ambiance. Simple and graphic, the furniture blends discreetly into every room.
Dedicated to fashion, the last three levels focus on contrasting materials: traditional wooden parquet, textured metals, lacquered walls in the fitting rooms. Pared back to the extreme, the clothes rails are transformed into modern frames to highlight the garments. The décor throughout is nourished, of course, by the preserved privacy of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment. The second floor thus welcomes furnishings inspired by her world. It’s here, in the three rooms that make up this floor, that the Ready-to-Wear collection and the Cruise, Métiers d’art, Coco Neige and Chanel’s Coco Beach collections will be displayed over the seasons. In one room, a ten panel antique Coromandel lacquered screen is positioned behind a beige sofa with cushions covered in gold fabric. In another, a large mirror in cut crystal and bronze made by Goossens hangs over a marble fireplace. The view over the neighborhood and the Tuileries Gardens, a polished bronze table by Ingrid Donat, along with a coffee table by Michael Pohu further accentuate the comfort and the warm welcome of this space. There’s a lion sculpted from Carrera marble, a Line Vautrin mirror dating from 1955, a Goossens chandelier, antique lamps and ceiling lights also forged by Mademoiselle’s goldsmith…
The 3rd and 4th levels are reserved for reception rooms covering a total floor space of 500m2. From 31 to 19 rue Cambon… With this ensemble, Chanel opens a new door into its world. Thus enriched, the customer experience takes on unprecedented scope. Immersed with the House values of excellence, it gives the impression of following in the footsteps of its founder and taking the creative paths established by Karl Lagerfeld.
Chanel and the artists
Gabrielle Chanel was always a fervent patron of the arts and artists. As well as counting many of them among her closest friends (Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Serge Diaghilev, Luchino Visconti, Jean Cocteau, Pierre Reverdy, to mention but a few), she would support and finance their work. Her apartment was also home to many pieces of both contemporary and historical art. So, it has always made sense that the Chanel boutiques should illustrate this love of art. Each time, the art is fully integrated, blending naturally into the décor, a precious object in an open and accessible showcase. A proximity and a simplicity that means it can be admired without an ostentatious mise-en-scene. The pleasure of introducing, of honoring these artists, and commissioning special pieces in collaboration with Chanel, is emblematic of Peter Marino’s work. No matter where it is located, every Chanel boutique reserves a special place for art and for contemporary artists.
From the entrance to the reception rooms, the boutique at 19 rue Cambon presents 28 artworks by 20 different artists, selected by Peter Marino. Present on four floors from the ground floor up, the specially commissioned work Große Treppe (Great Staircase) by Gregor Hildebrandt stretches for almost 14 meters: made of cut vinyl records, steel and fabric, it exists like a mobile in perpetual motion. On the first floor, the sculpture Odore di Femmina-Torso Plugs by Johan Creten shimmers in bronze covered with gold leaf. There we also find two Camellia collages, commissioned especially for the boutique and made by Peter Dayton.
On the second floor, a large panel painted by Martin Kline, also a commission, with its texture in relief, appears to retreat into Chanel’s iconic white. The reception rooms on the 3rd and 4th floors are also punctuated with works of art a sculpture by Paola Pivi accumulates gold on white beads on a wooden base, appearing as pearlised drops. On the third floor, polished silver takes pride of place with a table designed by Ingrid Donat. The darkness of Observation Point n°53, a small sculpture in glazed stoneware by Johan Creten contrasts with the brilliance of the Gold Dome VI canvas by Y. Z. Kami dipped in gold leaf. On the fourth and final floor, the pair of Murano glass vases entitled Love and Hate by Jerszy Seymour, ring out as a tribute to Chanel’s black and white two-tone duo.
Photos: Courtesy of Chanel