First look inside the new Chanel flagship
Chanel’s new flagship store, designed by eccentric architect Peter Marino, opened for a press preview this morning on London’s New Bond Street
One of Peter Marino’s greatest strengths lies in creating shops that feel like homes – albeit homes fit to grace the pages of Architectural Digest. His latest, the Chanel flagship store on London’s New Bond Street, was designed to feel like the abode of Chanel’s indomitable founder Coco Chanel. It’s hard to describe the space without resorting to the ecstatic stream of hyperbole emanating from the mouths of the fashion press assembled this morning. After all, we were exploring a 12,600 square-foot boutique.
Yes, you read correctly: 12,600 luxuriously upholstered square-feet, designed to house “the universe” according to Karl Lagerfeld. The three-floor space is split into rooms, furnished like a gloriously decadent house, and coloured in the beiges and golds that make up the House’s perfume packaging. The ground floor comprises rooms filled with watches and fine jewellery, costume jewellery, small leather goods, accessories, and beauty products.
Coco Chanel often wore ribbons, so the wall in the handbag room is covered with thick gold silk satin ribbons, woven like a screen with cut-outs to display bags. The accessory room is upholstered in hand-woven cream bouclé wool; other galleries feature plaster wall panels by Marc Swanson.
The second and third floors house ready-to-wear and shoes. An imposing antique fireplace dominates the drawing room on the second floor, an homage to the original fireplace in Coco’s Rue Cambon apartment. In another nod to Coco, there are sheaves of golden wheat flanking an annexe: Chanel was superstitious and had wheat in every room in Rue Cambon, a symbol of prosperity and wealth. The cream curtains are hand-embroidered with pearls; sofas are upholstered in tweed; silk rugs good enough to wear muffle our tread.
The central atrium reflects Marino’s other talent for combining heritage with contemporary cool. A giant pearl necklace of hand-blown grey Murano glass ‘pearls’, by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, reaches 11m from floor to ceiling. Marino commissioned the work, then designed the staircase around it. As he told Sheryl Garratt in a piece in the Telegraph Magazine two weeks ago: “You can’t buy a sculpture to fill a stairwell afterwards, that doesn’t work.”
Artworks and antique furniture are dotted throughout the store, including 20 new works commissioned by Marino. The collection is so comprehensive that press were armed with a catalogue explaining the provenance of each work – Chanel doesn’t do things by halves. There are new works from American artists Peter Dayton and Robert Greene; crystalline sculptures by Turner Prize winner Richard Deacon; a giant portrait of Coco Chanel festooned with trademark pearls printed on iris paper, by Iranian artist Y.Z. Kami; and prints by young British artist Idris Khan on the top floor, on loan from Marino’s private collection. A life-size deer covered in Swarovski crystals created by Marc Swanson presides over the fine jewellery room.
All sounds mildly overwhelming? That’s the point. As Marino told us: “It’s aspirational. If a customer comes in and just buys a $40 lipstick, it doesn’t matter. Her impression of Chanel is what’s important.”