I must say I’m not so obsessed by standard and acclaimed fashion icons, which Coco Chanel certainly is, but here I’m not going to talk about her style, but about her home. It’s located in 31 Rue Cambon, Paris, just above the famous boutique: the shop is at street level, haute couture and dressing rooms on the second, her apartment is on the third and her personal workshop was on the fourth. The rooftop also offers some of the best Paris views.
Actually this was not her apartment, as there is no bedroom and every night she retired to her private suite at the Ritz. This flat were a kind of gateway as she permanently lived in Ritz Hotel (where her room still exists and you can rent it for 8000/9000 euro per night). Anyway, in the apartment everything has been frozen in time and today we can see the home exactly the way she decorated it.
Gabrielle Chanel was born poor and she was able to create a fashion house alone. She had a series of rich and powerful lovers who helped her way to fame and fortune and, among her liaisons, were a Nazi intelligence officer during World War II and the Duke of Westminster, one of the richest man in England. There still are some of the duke’s lavish gifts in the apartment, such as three cigarette boxes, sit on a table in Chanel’s apartment. She smoked quite a lot and the elongated octagon-shaped cigarette boxes are engraved with the duke’s coat of arms. The boxes are silver on the outside and gold, the more precious metal, on the inside, a luxury hidden from view.
Everything is opulent and precious, here she also hosted many of her famous friends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. There are ornate lacquered Chinese screens and other oriental handicrafts, antique vases, sculptures of Hindu deities, a pairs of gilded Chinese horses, an ancient Russian icon from her friend Igor Stravinsky, a golden hand her friend Alberto Giacometti sculpted for her and a shaft of wheat painted by her friend Salvador Dali.
What I love the most of Chanel house is the eclecticism. French classic furniture is mixed with antiquities and other objects coming from Italy, China, Japan (at the time it was really exceptional to mix Orient and Occident) all organized by an accurate symbolism influenced by her superstitiousness. I also notice occult references like the crystal balls or the hand and mystic and religious symbols like the cross, the Bible and Buddha icons.
There’s one thing that caught my attention the most. A couple of bronze deers that very few people know to be owned by Marchesa Casati. Infact, by 1930, Casati had amassed a debt of twenty-five million U.S. dollars and, unable to satisfy countless creditors, her personal possessions were confiscated and auctioned off at the Palais Rose in 1932. Among the bidders was Coco Chanel, who purchased these bronze deer mascots. After Marchesa’s failure, all her objects, artworks and rare collectibles were sold and lost and many of these works, today, remain untraceable. That’s way this finding is invaluable!
info sources: thecoveteur.com; npr.org; dailymail.co.uk
She had this chandelier, made from semi-precious stones and crystal, custom made with intertwined double-C logo hidden all through it.
Coco designed this couch herself. She wanted it to be very comfortable. Normally people used silk or velvet, but Coco used suede.
Coco’s desk where she sketched at and her own glasses.
Pairs of lions, beige suede on the chairs and Chinese screens.
Coco was a Leo and she used to collect them.
The top of these tables once were made of marble. She had the marble tops removed and replaced with black lacquer. Mirrors were designed to be octagonal in shape, like the stopper for the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle. It is also the same shape of the iconic Place Vendome, which Coco could see out of her window of her residence at the Ritz Hotel.
Coco was very superstitious. Elements of this can be seen all over her apartment with sculptures of different animals and religious artifacts.
When the mouth of a frog is open it is to bring love, luck money and health. If you look closely you can see a crystal Coco placed inside the mouth.
This birdcage was the inspiration for Vanessa Paradis’ “Coco” perfume campaign.
The gold boxes were a gift from the Duke of Westminster with the most beautiful and most precious metal, gold, on the inside and not on the outside. It is the idea of invisible luxury. The hand sculpture was made for Chanel by the Italian artist Alberto Giacometti.
Coco was photographed many times in this iconic white chair.
The ornate Chinese screens and wall panels feature coromandel birds and camelia flowers, which came to be a signature for the Chanel fashion house that continues to be used until today.
The entrance to Coco’s apartment where an original work chair remains. Lower chairs were used for fittings as it was easier to sew and work with the fabric being lower to the ground.
During the fashion shows, which took place down stairs, Gabrielle Chanel would sit on the staircase. Thanks to the mirrors she could see everything taking place, but no one could see her. She wanted to know the immediate reaction, if the journalists and clients were pleased with the collection.
images source: thecoveteur.com;
the bronze deers owned by Marchesa Casati
images source: thecherryblossomgirl.com
images source: pursuitist.com