Summary by: FT Intern Safra Ducreay
Date Published: April 27, 2010
Working in the factory of fashion maison Chanel means it's vital to maintain freshly manicured nails. That's just one tightly sealed revelation of many insiders withheld from the public - until now. By exclusive invitation, Jenn, my fellow intern and I embarked on a quest to discover Les Secrets D'un Mythe Vivant (The Secrets of Living Myth), a look into Gabriel "Coco" Chanel's timeless label.
Prior to even knowing of this event, I was smitten by Mademoiselle Chanel. I had read the intensely descriptive Chanel: A Woman of her Own, the account of her life, and I watched Audrey Tatou in a convicted portrayal of her in Coco Avant Chanel. Needless to say, the idea of delving deeper into the icon's life made my skin curl with anticipation.
I was shocked when the Publicist for the event advised me it was "impossible" to get any video coverage. I always knew Chanel's mastermind Karl Lagerfeld hid his gifted eyes behind black shades, but I didn't expect it to be this deep! Nonetheless, with high hopes and a small camera in toe, Jenn and I were off to the event of the night.
The sun was setting on this cool April evening. We were consumed with clouds of excitement when we entered the doors of Bloor Street's Chanel boutique. Our minds overflowed with an influx of questions: will there be a fashion show? will Karl Lagerfeld be there? What about his beautiful muse Baptiste Giabiconi? I'd only ever seen pictures of star-studded Chanel events, and spent hours looking through tape's of Jeanne's voyage through Coco's 31 Rue Cambon apartment in Paris, but for some reason, the night was a new to me.
Once inside, waiters greeted us with champagne flutes and salmon Hors d'ouvres. For a space seemingly so small on the outside, we mused over the spacious interior. Every orifice was intricately designed with a Chanel item strategically placed. "Please have your seats, we're about to begin" the Publicist advised us. We sat down in a room surrounded by flat screens. The show was about to begin.
A gorgeous woman dressed in black and soaked in pearls spoke on the making of Mademoiselle Chanel. Her French accent drawled on Chanel's beauty as well as Karl's vision in carrying on the tradition but still keeping the brand fresh. Then she proceeded to walk us through a mini eight-part video on the making of a Chanel purse. February 1955 marked the year of the 2.55 bag, an item that emancipated women from heavy, impractical shoulder weights to flat metal links with an ounce of glamour. Chanel loved to slide her shoes off view under the table, so she invented slingbacks in beige that elongates the leg with black at the tips to make the foot shorter. Everything from the double-crossed CC, the no 5, the name of her perfume conceived by a random guess, to the soft calf leather used for the bag is precise. To boast skills as a Chanel artisan requires several years as an apprentice, and there's more than 180 stages in the creation of one Chanel bag.
No, there weren't celebrities or overzealous hype. What it was, was a glimpse at what Coco Chanel held dear, and the luxury she wanted women all over the world to share with her.
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