Chanel, with the spirit of Coco Chanel (more on that later) as well as the direction of Karl Lagerfeld, could do no wrong. And this has been proven in just about EVERYTHING it ever did and had association with – Ready To Wear, Couture, fashion accessories, fine jewellery, watches, fragrance, movie (remember Nicole Kidman sitting above the crowd with her long legs dangling from the Parisian rooftop?), you name it. Even Karl’s cat, Choupette Lagerfeld, has more Twitter and Instagram followers than most and is instantly adored by the entire fashion world and beyond. Now Chanel has an exhibition, and it’s absolutely mesmerising.
Following Hermés Wonderland and Jeff Koons, Saatchi Gallery in the heart of Sloane Square has housed the latest must-see exhibition in London that is CHANEL Mademoiselle Privé.
Before even setting a foot inside the gallery, the ambiance of style wraps you gently upon entering the demure English garden designed by Harry & David Rich. The delicacy of the long stem pastel flowers is contrasted with the protectiveness of the autumn wooden branches, and gives out a soothing sense of serenity combined with the strategically placed chirping sounds of birds.
The full exhibition stretches over three floors and takes the visitors from the iconic staircase towards Coco’s room to the world of design and inspiration that goes way beyond just fashion and style. Elegance, simplicity and modern-ness can be used to describe all sectors of the exhibition, even though they are drastically different and distinguished from one another. From the all white interior representing Chanel’s first store, to the multi-coloured accents on the large maroon tweed magnolia lying on the surface next to the staircase, the exhibition is strangely unpredictable as one goes along, yet consistent in its main theme, which, even though intangible as it seems, is what I consider that “feeling of Chanel”.
What visitors are most eager to see, without question, is the entire second floor which showcases the fashion powerhouse’s iconic couture designs as well as a full room dedicated to fine jewellery and accompanying campaign photographs shot by Karl Lagerfeld himself. The couture dresses are carefully chosen to reflect variation in style, and the intentional sheer materials of each design highlights the mass amount of work that goes into each individual gown. Every single appliqué, every bead, and every line in the shape is emphasized under the well placed spot lights. It is never easy to put the style of Chanel in plain words of English – it doesn’t seem to change, yet it evolves with time; it doesn’t follow trend, yet it goes ahead of any season in fashion. Karl says it the best: “you don’t necessarily see it, but a very good eye can notice it straight away”. It is when a girl has purchased a piece of Chanel that she can, without crossing her fingers behind her back, say to her partner confidently that she has just bought a piece of investment and history.
When it is finally the time to enter the glitzy room that hosted all the shimmering diamonds you can hear a low-toned buzz of excitement amongst even the coolest looking fashionistas. Similar with its couture style, Chanel fine jewellery isn’t your average twenty-carat stone set on a scatter of even more carats of precious gems. The outside-of-the-box-thinking must be a phrase designed to describe Chanel. Ingenuous and often girlie objects are selected by the mastermind and inevitably, they come alive and become a unique piece of treasure with various simple yet distinctive, sometimes quirky design. A half moon shaped brooch, an open necklace, two star shaped shoulder badges, hairband with cascading effect, each and every jewel is accurately and expertly placed to create the slices of dreaminess that had every girl’s gaze on.
Staying true to his sense of humour, Karl has directed a small feature film to be broadcasted in the small theatre next to the jewellery room. During the film, Coco Chanel, as a friendly spirit (albeit with a sharp character) comes face to face with Karl and confronts him of the changes in the House of Chanel. The outcome? Of course a happy one.
Note to all future attendees:
Note to all Coco fans like myself, it is not mandatory to dress up for the visit, but having a piece of Chanel on you seems to have been an unspoken rule amongst the stylist visitors. Download the Mademoiselle Privé app before you go – it uses augmented reality and location based beacons to complement your visit and provides you with relevant information throughout the exhibition for a fuller understanding of your journey inside the world of Coco Chanel.
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