Another month, another fashion exhibition. This year, more than ever, as soon as the last model strut their stuff on the catwalk, designers were off to gallery spaces, unveiling fashion-meets-art-meets-marketing exhibitions, even more elaborate than their runway shows.
Over two weeks in October London’s Saatchi Gallery hosted Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé – a fascinating journey through the origins of Chanel’s creations capturing the iconic personalities of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. A central part of the three-floor exhibit is its digital element, namely the Mademoiselle Privé augmented reality app, which visitors are strongly encouraged to download upon arrival.
The app enhances the experience with interactive content revealed throughout the visit. For example, the gallery’s ground floor comes to life with background, quotes and images of Coco’s Rue Cambon apartment and studio when visitors hold up their smartphones around the exhibition space thanks to augmented reality.
For a brand that is yet to embrace e-commerce, this is a significant leap in the digital realm. “This exhibition was imagined digitally from the beginning,” says Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s President of Fashion. “It is completely intertwined. This is not about content with digital support, it is about imagining the two together from the start.”
Free perfumery and fabric workshops also portrayed Chanel in a more approachable, friendly way than ususal. For Pavlovsky it was important that Chanel does not take itself too seriously. Visitors could see the playfulness all around the exhibition – from the hilarious short film where Lagerfeld “meets” the ghost of Chanel, to the corridors linking the rooms, Chanel’s slot machines and pastel fragrance rooms.
We’re talking about Chanel here, so needless to say that each room of the exhibition was supremely arranged, with impeccable attention to detail. Our stand out favourites were the totems, fragrance room and the garden.
The black line, the colour red, the camellia, the pearl, the wheat and the lucky numbers are all part of Chanel’s codes, symbols and icons created by Gabrielle Chanel and continued by Karl Lagerfeld. They have become emblematic to the house over the years.
The Chanel No. 5 laboratory experiments with the alchemy of the revolutionary and mysterious composition of Chanel No. 5. Conceived by the perfumer Ernest Baux and created in 1921, it is a complex formula made up of approximately 80 components, including the famous “aldehydes”. It was the first fragrance to ever bear the name of a fashion designer. The wells in the Sensory room contained each of the perfume’s ingredients.
JARDIN A LA FRANCAISE
The maze-like 18th century garden was inspired by the intertwined C motif that Gabrielle Chanel first saw in the stained-glass windows at Aubazine, the orphanage where she lived as a child. The interlocking C later became the brand’s signature. The garden at Mademoiselle Privé echoes Karl Lagerfeld’s knowledge and passion for the 18th century French garden.
Mademoiselle Privé showcased the processes and creative inspirations that keep the house alive and thriving, merging past, present and future, heritage and modernity.