From Paris to Tokyo, LA to Shanghai, the word ‘Chanel’ has long been synonymous with feminine elegance and subtle sophistication – and the iconic brand continues to expand into new territories over a century after its inception.
The phrase ‘understated chic’ was likely dreamt up to describe the designs of the iconic fashion house, which has revolutionized the industry ever since it started out as a humble Parisien salon, set up by the ambitious young Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel back in 1910.
No one could dispute the fact that Chanel’s signatures looks have never really gone out of style. Whether it be the classic Chanel suit with its thick braid trim and gold buttons, the quilted 2.55 leather flap bag with its recognizable gold chain strap, the signature two-tone pumps or even the ever familiar scent of Chanel No. 5, all the remnants of the effortless glamour the Parisian woman championed are still to be found in the wardrobe of every conscientious fashionista.
And of course we have ‘Maison Chanel’ to eternally thank for what Vogue described in 1926 as “the frock that all the world will wear”: that most crucial of wardrobe staples, the little black dress.
Indeed if ever there was a designer who understood the needs of women and responded to them, it was the legendary Mademoiselle Coco. Right from the beginning of The House of Chanel’s explosion onto the fashion scene in the 1920s, she flipped the fashion script by introducing clothes that flattered the female form rather than imposing onto it a superficially exaggerated hourglass silhouette.
From collarless tweed jackets to navy Breton stripes and loose-fitting chemise dresses, Coco created clothes that were not only comfortable but also glamorous – with an edge of liberating masculinity – and her designs were favored by a host of leading starlets of the silver screen, including Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.
However not only was Chanel a style visionary, allowing modern women to escape the restrictive fashions and corsets of the Belle Époque era; France’s First Lady of Style was also a savvy businesswoman – building an empire that included perfume, jewelry and cosmetics right from the get-go.
Under the virtuoso design leadership of Karl Lagerfield since the 1980s, Chanel has continued to go from strength to strength and its coveted feminine treasures are now to be found in every corner of the globe. Here, Elite takes a look at some of the newest and best Chanel boutiques throughout the world which – at last count – had reached over 180. As the legendary lady herself once said: “Fashion passes, but style remains.”
LONDON FLAGSHIP, New Bond Street
Launched in June this year, Chanel’s new UK flagship store in London’s Mayfair is truly a site to behold. Designed by Chanel’s NY architect Peter Marino, the three floor space utilizes materials including soft gold, marble and quartz to create an opulent and intimate setting.
The ground floor – dedicated to fine and costume jewelry, accessories and cosmetics – has a ‘ribbon’ wall made from gold fabric, inspired by Chanel’s collection of Coromandel screens, showcasing handbags including the ever iconic 2:55.
Reached by either lift or marble staircase, the first floor meanwhile contains pieces from the 2012-13 Métiers d’art Paris-Edimbourg collection and features an antique fireplace designed by Jasper Morrison – as well as stunning artworks by Karl Lagerfield. (Read on for more incredible Chanel boutiques…)