Step inside Coco Chanel’s private apartment
Text: Christina Zikou
Place Vendôme, Paris. One of the most magnificent squares all over the world. A source of inspiration, a temple of fine jewelry, an octagonal meeting of aesthetic and fashion. Dominated by the presence of the hotel Ritz, Vendôme is very linked to Mademoiselle Chanel, because not only did she use to live in the Ritz, she designed the cap of the legendary perfume Chanel No 5 following the Place’s proportions and geometry as well.
When Gabrielle Chanel decided to “settle down” and live in an apartment instead of a hotel suite, she chose rue Cambon, not far away from her beloved Vendôme. Born under the sign of Leo, Coco’s private refuge is surrounded with models of lions. “I am a Leo and, like a lion, I use my claws to prevent people from doing me harm, but, believe me, I suffer more from scratching than from being scratched.”
One can witness her love for Asian art, expressed through the presence of camellia, symbol of purity and longevity in Asia, as well as of Coromandel screens, which were the first thing she bought for the apartment. “I’ve loved Chinese screens since I was eighteen years old…I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a Chinese shop, I saw a Coromandel for the first time…”
Coco’s superstitious nature is reflected through the dominance of wheat, symbol of prosperity and of the frog, equivalent of good luck according to the Asian tradition.
Chanel’s private world includes two particular items, one of which is an 18th century armchair, made by the great furniture artist Chevigny, that Gabrielle was photographed by Horst in 1937. After this shoot, nobody knew what happened to the armchair, and it was found in an auction in Monte Carlo by Karl Lagerfeld.
Last but not least, the vermeil boxes offered as a love gift to Coco by the Duke of Westminster, the richest man in England. It was thanks to him that Mademoiselle discovered the true essence of luxury. The metal exterior was not as precious as the hidden interior, which was gold. The notion of something remaining hidden and existing only for oneself is what Coco Chanel embraces. “Elegance comes from being as beautiful inside as outside”.
To enjoy a private tour of Coco’s apartment, watch the video below.
Photos via chanel.fr