The new Chanel exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, Mademoiselle Privé, provides a fascinating insight into the wonderful world of an iconic brand and the magic behind the scenes.
Set on three floors, the exhibition includes beautiful haute couture creations, a room dedicated to Chanel’s best known perfume, Chanel No.5 as well as eye-catching sculptures and artwork. You can even develop your embroidery skills with Chanel artisans including Lesage. Sounds amazing doesn’t it?
My passion for all things Chanel started when I was 12 years old, when I first got my hands on a copy of Vogue. From then on I have been entranced by each collection and lusted after pretty much every single handbag, in particular the 2.55 and Boy bags. I purchased a mini black patent 2.55 bag last year and I’m so obsessed with her (I think it’s totally appropriate to give my bag a feminine form).
After the success of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been craving a new fashion exhibition. When news got out about the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition, I was beside myself with excitement. Think a kid in a toy store. I was THAT hyper.
When I visited the retrospective, I only had to queue for a few minutes (I went on a weekday morning so at peak times it might be busier). A Mademoiselle Privé app (iOS and Android phones only) is free to download and tells you the estimated waiting time. The app is a great accompaniment to the exhibition.
The fun begins outside with a glorious garden with colourful flowers and neatly arranged shrubs. Curated by landscape designers Harry and David Rich, the aim is to create something typically British and use reference points from Coco Chanel’s life. It’s very relaxing walking through the gardens.
The ground floor is dedicated to the beginning of Coco Chanel’s life, from selling hats in Deauville to her travels to Scotland which cemented her love for tweed and chunky sweaters. Everything transforms into augmented reality, with certain areas turning into Coco’s Parisian apartment on my phone. Pretty cool, right?
The mirrored staircase of her apartment on Rue Cambon is stunning. Of course, it was essential to pose for photograph, it felt almost rude not to! Later on, there’s an splendid oversized rotating birdcage which houses an exquisite diamond necklace. It’s achingly beautiful close up.
Totems includes colourful installations, ranging from a multi-coloured striped statue to a Chanel robot made up of numbers Coco Chanel was fond of.
Lots of Karl Lagerfeld’s artwork features in the exhibition. I loved the colourful disk piece in the No. 5 room (highlighting the importance of Chanel’s best loved perfume). No.5 had enormous metal containers which resembled metal clams and opened intermittently revealing colourful contents. It was thrilling watching them open. LED lights added a certain je ne sais quoi.
As soon as I saw the haute couture collections on the first floor I fell in love with every single piece. Two rooms are filled with dazzling evening dresses made from lace, silk and tulle and finished off with glitter and feathers. The silhouette on a bejewelled golden dress was extraordinary. The nipped in waists and flattering tailoring are superb.
The second couture room includes outfits in lace, silk and velvet. Chanel is famous for its jackets and there’s a beautiful black number on display. I even spotted a pair of the much sought after Chanel black trainers. Oh, be still my beating heart.
Next up is the video installation of Karl Lagerfeld and Gabrielle Chaplin (starring as Coco Chanel). The dialogue between the pair is fantastic. Lagerfeld is witty throughout and he stands his ground as he defends his decision to make the brand “more relevant for today.”
Mademoiselle Privé is a wonderful collection of everything that makes Chanel special. If that wasn’t enough of an incentive to visit, free Mademoiselle Privé tote bags (including a free poster) are given out at the exit. How fabulous!
Mademoiselle Privé is showing at the Saatchi Gallery from now until 1st November. Admission is free. For more information go to saatchigallery.com