Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Coco's footsteps...

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

I will remember 2010 as the year I became fascinated with the life and career of a French icon, fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. It is impossible to grow up in France without knowing who Mademoiselle Chanel was... After all, the woman revolutionized fashion, enjoyed a long and successful career, and led a fascinating life. After watching two movies, and reading five books on Chanel, including two biographies, I was dying to visit the place where it all started: the original Chanel boutique, 31 rue Cambon, in the 1st Arrondissement. 

I asked Mutti, my mother in law, to come with me. A true Parisienne, and a very elegant lady, I knew she would enjoy our adventure. Le Husband kindly offered to tag along  and document our visit. On a cold, but pretty morning, we were ready to follow in Coco's footsteps...

We started at 31 rue Cambon, the place where Chanel worked until her death, in 1971, at the age of 87. She bought the four-story building early in her career, and set up a boutique (at the street level), two couture salons, and a lavishly decorated apartment where she never actually lived, but loved to entertain.

The official reason for today's visit was to pick Christmas presents for Mutti and Moi. Mutti has lived in Paris her whole life, and she had never set a foot in the boutique until today! I must confess we were pleasantly surprised by the level of service we found chez Chanel. From the security guard who opened the door for us, to the sales people who greeted us in the store, everyone was attentive and friendly. We did not buy expensive clothes, or fancy handbags, but picked instead some perfume (Mutti) and costume jewelry (Moi). The Chanel team still treated us like royalty. Le Husband was not allowed to take pictures inside the boutique, but he managed to snap a few shots. He was on a mission after all! 

I can't believe we are finally here!

Entering the building... Melle. Chanel is greeting us in person!

Inside the 'Sanctuary'...

Afterwards... The visit was everything I expected,
and more...

These two seem thrilled about their purchases!

We took our time to visit Chanel's boutique: Handbags, shoes, clothes, perfume and accessories... There was a lot to admire and take in. Mademoiselle Chanel designed this place to look like her couture collections: beautiful, elegant, yet functional and understated. What an incredible experience!

Our mission was not over yet. During her long career, Chanel worked everyday at the rue Cambon boutique. In the evening, she would walk back to the private suite she kept at the Ritz hotel, located a few minutes away, on the prestigious Vendôme square. Off we went to the Ritz Paris. It was lunch time after all! 

Place Vendôme, home of famous jewelers 

Le Ritz Paris

Lunch was delicious. Everything is beautiful at the Ritz Paris, including my favorite dessert.

Le Ritz does Christmas...

Mutti and I agreed we could get used to this lifestyle...

Note to self: Chanel was a smart woman. Plan on spending a couple of nights at the Ritz during our next visit.
Second note to self: Plan on moving into the Ritz permanently once Junior if off to college! ;-)

Merci, Gabrielle, for inspiring such an amazing day.

My little piece of Chanel...

Do you want to hear more about Coco Chanel? Read my tribute to Chanel n. 5 here.

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