Two words are posted on the door of Gabrielle Chanel’s workshop at rue Cambon: Mademoiselle Privé
I’ve been to many fashion and style exhibitions in London, but the current Coco Chanel exhibition at the Saatchi gallery is my absolute favourite and a must-see for any lover of Madame Chanel’s aesthetic taste. Previously, I’ve been disappointed with very small exhibits or shows guarded by rather fierce looking security personnel threatening to confiscate my camera for trying to record memories on my camera or phone ( The “Italian Fashion” exhibit at the V&A springs to mind)!
The Coco Chanel exhibition at the Saatchi gallery not only tolerates cameras and phones, but encourages visitors to walk through the gallery with their smart phone in hand. The purpose built app works with beacon technology; point the phone to any room in the gallery and the app will bring it to life with augmented reality images and videos of Mademoiselle Chanel. A bold move for a traditional brand that still hasn’t entered the e-commerce field.
The haute couture dresses are displayed on lighting rods displaying the details of the incredible fine and skilful craftsmanship.
The show is a subtle homage to Karl Lagerfeld – the man who resurrected a dying, French brand and turned it into a global icon. Year after year, he reinvented Coco’s signature style key ingredients such as the signature bouclé tweed costumes, quilted leather, pearls, embroidery with flowers, feathers and gemstones – all corner stones of the exhibit.
Coco inspired Karl and fascinates people to this day because she was ahead of her time and liberated woman with her designs and taste that are as relevant today as they ever were.
A Chanel fan dressed from head to toe in Chanel. Love the oversized pearls!
Visitors can attend one of three workshops on Lesage embroidery, Lemarie feather and flower making and Chanel No 5 olfactive workshop.
Stroll through the reconstructed boutique at Rue Cambon, complete with the iconic staircase flanked by mirror walls, through a room full of hat boxes, resembling Coco’s first studio in Deauville.
Walk into the heady perfume room and watch bubbling, colourful cauldrons open and close, revealing the finest ingredients of the famous Chanel scents blended by olfactory artisans.
Coco’s diamonds: In 1932, Coco designed her first and only high jewellery collection, creating innovative new designs, rendering the previous styles out of date. For the first time, she didn’t make the diamond the centre piece, but lines and patterns as in couture . She selected five themes for her bijoux collection: The magic of the stars, the rays of the sun, the fluidity of ribbons, the innocence of fringes and the lightness of feathers. Breaking with tradition, she refused to exhibit her jewels on black cushions, but instead styled them on wax mannequins in her private apartment at 29 Fabourg St Honore
In the exhibit, portraits of stars such as Lily Collins, Kristen Stewart, Keira Knightly and Vanessa Paradis, are shown wearing the stunning pieces.
A typical Chanel boucle tweed jacket worn over a tulle skirt: Coco adopted nonchalant elegance, straight cuts and minimalism at a time when silhouettes of wasp waits and puffy A-line skirts dominated. Her timeless and visionary designs can be worn today whilst looking modern and chic.
In the sensory room, visitors can touch and wander through swathes of Chanel couture fabrics including the famous bouclé tweeds. A bucket full of Chanel chains invites you to let your fingers run through the heavy chains.