If ever I've experienced an a-ha moment, it was standing outside of 31 Rue Cambon, the home of Mademoiselle Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. This is where the creative genius of one of the world's most luxurious brands dwelled, and I couldn't wait to take it all in. What many of you might not know is that Mademoiselle Chanel was a very superstitious woman. All of the knick-knacks in her apartment are in pairs, and she never liked to be alone. Because of this, she only used her apartment for entertaining and conducting interviews, and she slept in a suite at the Hôtel Ritz across the street.
I entered the ground floor of the building, not through the public store entrance, but through the private entrance to her home. The first thing you see is a giant framed black and white photograph of Coco Chanel. What struck me the most was that the employees that we were greeted by were so in tune with Coco's life and the symbolism behind every single tiny detail in her home.
The first stop in the House of Chanel was the stunning, modern and spacious haute couture fitting rooms. We were told that anything we saw was of utmost secrecy since Karl Lagerfeld was busy on the fourth floor with the couturiers, getting ready for the Emmy Awards and the spring 2008 fashion show.
Next, we went up the famous winding, mirrored staircase to the apartment. The staircase itself is where Coco would sit from high above to make sure that everyone was on top of their daily tasks. She could also watch the faces and reactions of editors without them ever being the wiser.
To read about all of the secret symbolic details of the apartment, read more
As the doors to the exquisite apartment open, I must say that I was surprised by all of the ornate Baroque detailing. Her fashions are so modern, yet her home was full of antiques and lavish collectibles. A notable and symbolic fixture was the mirror in her reception room. She loved it so much that it eventually inspired the stopper for the world's best-selling fragrance, Chanel No.5.
There are camellias (the flower of Chanel) all over the wall screens, and who knew that her quilted brown couch was the inspiration for the classic 2.55 handbag. And remember the 1992 ads for Coco Chanel where Vanessa Paradis swings from a a tiny gold birdcage? The original (and very tiny) version sits beside the couch on a table.
The two black lacquer tables in her dining room served as the source of inspiration for all of the sleek black packaging of Chanel Beauté. The last piece I will mention is the massive chandelier in the living room that is constructed of iron shaped by hidden "G's" (for Gabrielle), "5's" for Chanel No. 5 and "CC's" as in her initials (and of course, the Chanel logo.)
It made me think: If only everyone had this much symbolism and meaning in the tiny details. It is truly remarkable how the brand is still inspired by her even though she has been gone for over 36 years. To see the new Coco Mademoiselle movie starring Keira Knightley, come back again tomorrow!