We’ve seen Chanel’s spring/summer 2016 line, and more recently their travel accessory collection, but now they’re giving viewers a more intimate look inside the house’s operations. At the Saatchi Gallery in London, the brand has opened the Chanel Mademoiselle Privé exhibition, named after the same-worded sign Gabrielle “Coco” herself placed on the room to her design studio so her work wouldn’t be interrupted. The exhibition will show how the inputs have changed, coming from when Coco was running her business, to now-creative director Karl Lagerfeld’s concepts.
This exhibition was supposed to become available in 1932, but was cancelled due to British customs, and now, after 83 years, on Tuesday, October 13, visitors will be able to visit the exhibition and, with the support of its corresponding app, witness a total inside look to the history of the brand.
“We felt we wanted, and needed, to say something about what goes on behind the scenes; about creativity,” said CEO Bruno Pavlovsky, during the exhibition’s press release. “When you see Chanel, you see Mademoiselle, you see her apartment, you see the magnificent shows, but you don’t see much about what’s happening behind the scenes. We felt it was a good time for the brand to give away some secrets.”
And we couldn’t agree more. With the rich history and long-lasting legacy in their runway shows, the only thing missing was a look inside the brand. The display begins before you step foot in the door. Harry and David Rich created a lazy English garden that paves the way to the front door, and once you enter, you are able to see the most personal details of Coco’s design career, as well as the legacy that continued on to Lagerfeld.
Through a mix of physical and virtual displays as well as the incorporation of the app, the 3D display is totally immersive for viewers. Visitors can virtually see everything from Coco’s Rue Cambon apartment and the first hat shop she opened in Deauville to a recreation of the giant birdcage used in Chanel’s 1991 fragrance ad, which featured spokesperson Vanessa Paradis – only this time featuring a larger-than-life recreation of Chanel’s famous diamond necklace dating back to 1932.
The most striking feature of the exhibit is the use of senses. In one room, visitors are able to feel a variety of luxe fabrics used in Chanel Couture, which would be enough to fulfill many Chanel lovers’ fantasies. But to move a step beyond that, visitors can see – and smell – the scents famous to the brand, to no limit of extravagance. Everything seems fantastical about this room, and visitors should come prepared for a total sensory experience. And this is only on the first floor.
By travelling up a flight of stairs, visitors are thrown into the world of fashion. In the first area, haute couture dresses are displayed on beams of light, showing the roots of the brand and everything it has stood for since its founding in 1909. This is groundbreaking, in that viewers are able to see firsthand the intricate detail work that goes into making an haute couture garment.
Chanel’s original jewelry line, the Bijoux de Diamants High Jewellery collection, has been recreated for the exhibition, and is featured on mannequins and paired with the various designs. To finish off the tour, the final room contains a French garden with real box hedges and double C pathways. But, on the floor above, workshops teaching embroidery and perfume blending allow fashion fans to catch a glimpse at the work that goes into haute couture, and may even have a chance to attempt it themselves.
It is clear that Chanel is making the brand more accessible to fans of the brand everywhere. Using today’s technology, especially apps, allows for easy interaction between the luxury brand and people of all walks of life, so the future of the brand is, quite literally, in the hands of people.
Photos courtesy of Vogue UK