Coco Chanel's Digs

October 22, 2014

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I have always been fascinated by Coco Chanel’s magnificent Paris apartment that has been written about and photographed repeatedly. Even more amazing is the fact that, 43 years after her death, the apartment at is still there and remains exactly as it was when she was alive.

A recent photographic exhibition by director Sam Taylor-Johnson at the Saatchi Gallery in London was reviewed by the Financial Times, 9/6/14. “The apartment is a reflection of a life through objects,” says Taylor-Johnson.

The portraits in the exhibit show rooms frozen in time. One sees the famous Coromandel screen, Chanel’s curved satin chair as well as eight beige suede-covered Louis XVI chairs in the dining room.

Not that these seats were ever occupied. Chanel invited only her closest friends to meals consisting solely of seasonal fruits and vegetables. There could be no odors – nothing heavy, fatty or sugary passed Mademoiselle’s lips.

The interior of the apartment at 31 rue Cambon, has been left exactly as it was when Chanel was alive. Her glasses are on her desk next to an open book and a tea set has been placed on a low table. Tarot cards are laid out to show the numbers 5, 19 and 22 – the names of her best-known perfumes.

For me personally, the most arresting photos are of the multiple mirrors running up the staircase that leads from the ground-floor entrance, with the boutique on the left, up to the haute-couture salon on the first floor.

But is the apartment intimate or just plain haunting? Taylor-Johnson responds, “It’s not museum-like. The crystal ball, for example, felt like it had been held and looked into many, many times. The crucifix figure was almost worn away – as if it had been rubbed and prayed over. The essence of Chanel is firmly rooted there in all her possessions.”

MAY WE SUGGEST…

Have we sparked your interest in a trip to Paris in the near future? Don’t forget to pack several Adea tops. They will arrive wrinkle-free and ready to go to a long-lingering lunch or dinner at your favorite French restaurant.

- Shaun



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