“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” ~ Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz in Paris but worked and entertained within walking distance at Rue Cambon. There are four floors: the Chanel store is at street level, haute couture dressing rooms are on the second floor, her apartment is on the third, and her workshop is on the fourth. The rooftop of the building is said to have some of the best views of Paris.
The photos above show Chanel’s sitting room and a chandelier that featured interlocking 5′s and C’s.
Below is a photo of the famous faceted mirrored spiral staircase that Chanel designed. It connected all four levels of her apartment and made it possible for her to stand in one spot and see what was happening on every floor.
In the photo below you can see the Chinese screens that she split and used as wallpaper. They feature her favorite flower, the Camellia, which she often used in her designs.
Chanel lived here until her death in 1971, and everything has been frozen in time. She didn’t actually sleep here, though–there is no bedroom in the flat. Instead, she kept a private suite at the Ritz across the street.
Here are the haute couture dressing rooms on the floor below her apartment:
Other interesting facts about Mme. Chanel:
She was a Leo and collected lions.
Whenever she went to her apartment on Rue Cambon, there were orders to spray Chanel No. 5 around the stairway so her signature scent would greet her.
She decorated the sitting room with a suede beige sofa in a time when both suede and beige upholstery were unheard of. She was selective about who could actually sit on it.
- During a brief career as a singer, she changed her name from Gabrielle to Coco (“little pet”) and it stuck.
She was very practical, which is why she liberated women from the corsets and long skirts that made it so difficult for them to breathe, work, and drive, saying women should have “the possibility to laugh and eat, without necessarily having to faint.”
When she was young, Chanel couldn’t afford the high fashions of the day, so she created her own style by using inexpensive jersey–a fabric that was primarily used for men’s undergarments at the time.
She hated the ornate ostrich-feathered hats of the day, famously asking, “How can a brain function under those things?” The flapper hat was her answer, and women loved it.
Chanel was a trendsetter even when she didn’t intend to be. For example, after she singed her hair, she cut it all off, sparking the craze for bobbed hair.
After a fortune-teller told her that 5 was her lucky number, she named her perfume Chanel No. 5, and it made her millions.
She was the first designer to put her own name on a fragrance.
The original No. 5 bottle was supposedly designed to mimic the shape of Place Vendome. Check out NotCot’s clever photoshopping that matches the dimensions of the bottle to the plaza.
- When she died at 87, they found only three complete outfits in the closet of her Paris apartment.
The birdcage in her sitting room (shown below) was the inspiration behind the 1992 Chanel commercial with Vanessa Paradis (see the video here).
I found these photos on NotCot, Blographic, and CoolHunting, so go there for more pictures and information. Photo of Coco Chanel photographed by Man Ray in 1935 (Man Ray Trust). You can read more about Chanel and see more photos of her flat at NPR.
If you really want the Chanel experience, you can stay at her apartment at the Ritz. According to Forbes Traveler: