The "Mademoiselle Privé" exhibition is continuing an immersive journey through the origins of CHANEL's creations capturing the charismatic personality, audacity and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld.
Unique to the city of Shanghai, this "Mademoiselle Privé" totally renewed scenography revolves around three emblematic addresses, materializing in the exhibition as three houses, each one a dreamlike immersion into the very sources of CHANEL’s creative process : 31 rue Cambon, the mythical address housing the Creation Studio and the Haute Couture ateliers, 18 Place Vendôme dedicated to the High Jewelry with the reedition of the one and only collection 'Bijoux de Diamants', and Grasse, where the perfumer Ernest Beaux and Gabrielle Chanel together created CHANEL N°5 in 1921.
31 rue Cambon
Cross the threshold of 31 rue Cambon and enter the captivating world of Haute Couture and the legend of CHANEL itself… A history of the oldest House of Haute Couture still active, established at this address since 1918.
It is here that the Haute Couture, the first vocation of CHANEL, is reinvented season after season in a quest for perfection and unbounded modernity. We are thus plunged into the mysteries of this mythical address: the creation Studio, the Haute Couture ateliers, the salons reserved for the clients, Mademoiselle’s perfectly preserved apartment, and not forgetting the legendary staircase, the true backbone of the House that permitted Mademoiselle Chanel to watch her runway shows without being seen.
Daring, visionary, enamoured with freedom, from 1913 she broke with the conventions of the era and spent her entire life liberating women from the strict codes of an outmoded fashion. She revolutionised the silhouette and invented a new wardrobe, that of a modern woman: soft, comfortable outfits in jersey that freed women from corsets, the little black dress, acclaimed from 1926 and that would became one of the iconic pieces of the House, and the tweed suit created in the 1950s, a garment that moved away from post-war conventions, with a nonchalant elegance, masculine-feminine, imagined for free and active women, and that has become the very embodiment of an eternal elegance forever part of the zeitgeist.
CHANEL’s Haute Couture resembles its creator: a vision of immense freedom, a limitless imagination and creativity. Her legacy has been magnified through the little black dress and the suit present in every collection, both of which Karl Lagerfeld reinvented a thousand times following his arrival in 1983 as Artistic Director of the House.
It is at 18 Place Vendôme, that CHANEL has installed its Creation Studio and High Jewelry atelier, above the boutique and the salons reserved for the clients. On the 5th floor precisely, with windows that offer a bird’s eye view over the Vendôme column and the Hotel Ritz Paris, where Mademoiselle Chanel lived.
1932, the origins
By creating her one “Bijoux de Diamants” collection in 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel laid the foundations for CHANEL’s High Jewelry. Her vision of precious jewelry was so pioneering and daring that it contrasted sharply with that of the grand jewelers of the Place Vendôme and provoked a veritable revolution…
She was the first couturier to challenge the very closed and strictly masculine circle of High Jewelry. The first, again, to envisage this ultimate luxury within an idealised context of freedom, levity and nonchalance that seduced women and made the repertoire of High Jewelry truly modern. Just as she had done with the Haute Couture and the N°5 perfume, Mademoiselle Chanel offered a completely new to approach to diamond jewelry. The remarkably made pieces in this collection express her unique vision: they had no fastenings or apparent settings; the latter having been considerably lightened to gain flexibility.
The icon of CHANEL perfumery around the world since its creation nearly 100 years ago, the success of N°5 has never been refuted. Synonymous with luxury and elegance, this jus with its golden reflections, dressed in its architectural bottle has traversed time without ever losing its modernity. A radical creation in every aspect, reflecting the personality of Gabrielle Chanel, N°5 has established itself as the archetypal perfume.
A Perfume that is “artificial like a dress”...
It is an abstraction, an absolute invention, a perfume that evokes an armful of flowers, without being able to identify a single one; when Gabrielle Chanel and the perfumer Ernest Beaux brought N°5 into existence in 1921, they were offering much more than just a new fragrance: this was an olfactive revolution.
It was in Grasse, the historical centre of French perfumery and where some of the most beautiful flowers that go into the N°5 composition are still cultivated today, that this perfume first saw the light of day in the laboratory of Ernest Beaux.
A visionary fashion designer and the first couturier to enter the world of perfumery, Gabrielle Chanel refused the idea of a fragrance directly linked to the scent of one flower. Breaking from the tradition that was so fond of “soliflores”, that is to say, perfumes associated with just one scent, she asked Ernest Beaux for “a perfume that is artificial like a dress, in other words fabricated. I am an artisan of couture. I don’t want rose, lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is composed.” She sought “a women’s perfume with the scent of a woman”, and Ernest Beaux created an unprecedented work of olfactive architecture, just for her… A bouquet of 80 scents whose precious notes (May rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood, vanilla, orange blossom…) were blended for the first time in history.
It was the aldehydes that enhanced the fragrances by removing any overly precise contours, and the aldehydes once more that gave this perfume its mystery and its subtlety and moved perfumery into the modern era.
Mademoiselle Chanel, who made N°5 her signature, lent it her image when she posed before the camera of photographer François Kollar in her apartment at the Ritz Paris in 1937 for an advertising campaign for the USA. In 1959, N°5 became an icon: its packaging was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Marilyn Monroe confided that all she wore to bed was a few drops of N°5 and Andy Warhol immortalised its bottle, all confirming the extraordinary fame of this singular perfume. Over time N°5 has been embodied in campaigns by Catherine Deneuve, Candice Bergen, Suzy Parker, Ali MacGraw, Lauren Hutton, Carole Bouquet, Estella Warren, Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tautou, and Gisele Bündchen.
Almost a hundred years after its creation, its powers of seduction and its modernity are still intact.
While its formula, jealously guarded by CHANEL’s successive noses remains faithful to its original olfactive identity, N°5 was reinvented in 2016 with N°5 L’EAU, by the Perfumer-Creator of the House, Olivier Polge.
To enhance the visitors’ experience CHANEL launched a dedicated "Mademoiselle Privé" WeChat service account on which they can upon registration enjoy a mini-program. Visitors could also listen to the introduction part of audio guide specially recorded by CHANEL ambassador Zhou Xun on mini-program. An exhibition account on Douyin is also launched for an augmented reality experience.
West Bund Art Center
No.2555 Longteng Ave. Shanghai
Open to public
From April 20th to June 2nd, 2019
1:00am - 8:00pm Monday – Sunday