Most of you probably know that the name of my blog comes from my absolute undying love for all things Chanel. I am absolutely obsessed with the life story of Gabrielle Chanel, having watched countless biopics and read masses of books about her. Similarly, I think Karl Lagerfeld is an absolute genius and someone that has manage to preserve the image of Chanel, whilst also updating it for the 21st century. When I visited Paris last year, I took myself off on a little Chanel pilgrimage here and felt honoured to visit the iconic 31 Rue Cambon. So when I heard that there was going to be a Chanel exhibition held at The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, dedicated to the life of Gabrielle Chanel, there was no way I was going to miss it!
'Mademoiselle Privé', named after the sign that often hung on Gabrielle Chanel's door when she was working, started its run on the 13th of October and ends this weekend, so if you haven't had chance to visit yet, you've still got time! My lovely VBF Natalie accompanied me to this exhibition and we couldn't wait to see what was in store for us!
'Mademoiselle Privé' is quite an unusual exhibition in that it is free entry, but no tickets can be secured for it (unless you book to take part in a workshop) and the management of the whole event and different aspects of it, run through an interactive iPhone app. Being savvy, I downloaded my app before the exhibition so that I could keep an eye on the queuing times for entry, and hoped and prayed we'd manage to get in okay! Before I go on to talk about the exhibition which was amazing, if you do visit this weekend be prepared for a long wait. We waited about 40 mins to get into the entrance, and then another 40 mins at least to enter the gallery (they cleverly concealed the second waiting time, so we weren't expecting it!). But it's definitely worth the wait!
Okay, let's start with the garden...
This was the only shot I got of it and it was quite a gloomy day so it doesn't really do it justice. The garden was created by Chelsea flower show gold winners Harry and David Rich and contains many of Gabrielle's favourite flowers whilst being split into three zones relating to different areas of her life. The Telegraph gave a really good in depth review of the garden here which explains this in greater detail, in a much better way than I ever could.
After waiting in our second queue, it was finally time to enter. The first room is white with a black drawn-on outline. Straight away my app was put to work, as when I scanned it around the room, the outline disappeared to reveal Mademoiselle Chanel's famous apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. As I'll probably never get the chance to see the actual apartment, it was amazing to pretend that I was actually there!
A screen shot of the apartment through the eyes of the app
A replica of the famous mirrored staircase at Rue Cambon
From the apartment, the next room is the famous hat boutique Chanel opened from the ground floor Boy Capel's apartment at 160 Boulevard Malesherbes. This shop was a key piece of Chanel's history, as it was the first shop that she opened in Paris and it brought her great success.
Interactive pictures adorn the walls of the next room; photos of all of the people that were prominent in Chanel's life and various pictures of the lady herself. The app helps here, giving you the who's who of Chanel's world.
Take a look behind the famous door to see Gabrielle working, all seen through the eyes of the iPhone. Technology plays a key part in this exhibition, bringing much more than what meets the eye.
How fitting that the next room should contain a stunning enlarged piece of Chanel fine jewellery rotating in a giant bird cage. This was one of my favourite parts of the exhibition, the diamonds caught the light beautifully.
The Totem room, is quite possibly the most unusual part of the Chanel story, and here it is quite important to use the app as the totems are quite abstract.
The first, this giant man decked head to toe in numbers, represents the intrinsic code often used in Chanel's work; she was obsessed with the relevance of numbers. Number 5 for the perfume, 31 for the number at Rue Cambon, 18 Place Vendome, 21 for the first space she bought on Rue Cambon, the list goes on.
Pearls are prolific in Chanel's work.
Rouge red, the preferred colour aside from Black and White that was often used by Gabrielle in the Chanel colour palette.
From the cutting room, it's Haute Couture that is addressed next. Fabric is suspended from the ceilings of the gallery giving the opportunity to touch and feel the quality of Chanel. Tucked away on the walls are images of ateliers creating the clothes through the use of shadow projection.
Next, the chains used in the creation of the gorgeous and classic 2.55 bag, are displayed beautifully in a big Chanel bucket.
Moving on and up the stairs, the next room deals with Chanel No 5, the familiar scent that immediately creates a link to the house of Chanel. An original tiny bottle of the scent is encased in a glass cabinet, whilst all around, pods take turns to release the famous smell into the air.
And then to more foliage, the garden room created to symbolise the patterns intertwined on the windows of Aubazine, the orphanage where Chanel grew up.
Then in the second room, Chanel fine jewellery, originals and recreations are displayed. Recently, these jewels were adorned by the celebrities that played roulette at the Chanel Haute Couture AW'15 show at the Grand Palais (here). Karl Lagerfeld designed dresses and chose specific pieces of jewellery for each celebrity, and the images of these are displayed on the walls of the room. This part was the hardest to photograph in the low light, but hopefully you'll get an idea of how spectacular each piece was!
After a browse around the gift shop, we couldn't resist a pose and a play with the fruit machines featured in said show. These are tucked away up on the top floor where the workshops take place, so be sure to visit them!
Each visitor leaves with a free tote bag and poster of the exhibition, so it's nice to know that after enduring a queue, you'll be sure to leave with your own little piece of Chanel. I absolutely adored the exhibition, and if you get the chance to, especially if you're in London, I'd make sure you check it out before it disappears forever...hurry, you have until Sunday evening!
I love it when some of my dreams of Coco become a reality!