February 05, 2013

Chanel

31, rue Cambon, 75001 Paris

Just off the rue to Rivoli and across the street 
from the discrete back entrance to the Ritz Hotel

Home of the original Chanel boutique in Paris


Mademoiselle herself is still omnipresent, observing as she did for so many years, perched on the fifth step of the mirrored staircase, scrutinizing every detail.

I am fascinated by Coco Chanel's life, a study in contrasts like her iconic black and white. I admire her vision and innovation, her timeless sense of style. Yet, I am puzzled by her contrary ideas, her arrogance juxtaposed with simplicity and vulnerability. Forty-two years after her death, she remains enigmatic and controversial. Each biographer attempts to fit together the disparate pieces of her character to reveal the truth about Chanel. Yet all acknowledge that, given her penchant for self-invention, it is unclear whether Mademoiselle herself had a true sense of her own identity. If you are interested in learning more about the legendary couturière, here are a two books that I have recently read and a favorite film.

Justine Picardie's Chanel: Sa Vie includes hundreds 
of photos and sketches by Karl Lagerfeld
creative director of the House of Chanel


Audrey Tautou portrays Coco avant Chanel
focusing on Mademoiselle's formative years

The whole experience of visiting
 the Chanel boutique is enchanting.

On my most recent visit to Paris last month, 
the sidewalk near the boutique was embellished with stars.

You can still feel Mademoiselle's presence
in every detail, from the architecture and furnishings
to the impeccably tailored clothing of the sales people,
to the complimentary cups of tea or glasses of Champagne.

Coco's beloved camellias adorn shopping bags and boxes.
(I am tempted to wear mine on a summer tank top, 
the lapel of a jacket or even in my hair. What do you think?)

Even the tiniest package seems extra special.

Every embellishment is lovely, almost too beautiful to open:
More camellias, embossed grosgrain ribbons,
baubles that may be used as key chains or charms

Black dust covers sealed with Karl Lagerfeld sketches 
reminiscent of the beach cabanas in Deauville


I chose a classic "wallet on a chain" in the perfect shade of French blue (not quite periwinkle or cornflower blue, a beautiful grayish blue hue that is nearly impossible to capture with my camera). I love the versatility of wearing it as a cross-body bag, shoulder bag, hand bag, or even a clutch. It has compartments for cash, change, and cards, as well as ample space for essentials like lipgloss and my iPhone.

February 5, 2013 Photo of the day: "Pour Madame"