From Paris to Tokyo, LA to Shanghai, the word ‘Chanel’ has long been synonymous with feminine elegance and subtle sophistication – and the iconic brand continues to expand into new territories over a century after its inception.
The phrase ‘understated chic’ was likely dreamt up to describe the designs of the iconic fashion house, which has revolutionized the industry ever since it started out as a humble Parisien salon, set up by the ambitious young Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel back in 1910.
No one could dispute the fact that Chanel’s signatures looks have never really gone out of style. Whether it be the classic Chanel suit with its thick braid trim and gold buttons, the quilted 2.55 leather flap bag with its recognizable gold chain strap, the signature two-tone pumps or even the ever familiar scent of Chanel No. 5, all the remnants of the effortless glamour the Parisian woman championed are still to be found in the wardrobe of every conscientious fashionista.
And of course we have ‘Maison Chanel’ to eternally thank for what Vogue described in 1926 as “the frock that all the world will wear”: that most crucial of wardrobe staples, the little black dress.
Indeed if ever there was a designer who understood the needs of women and responded to them, it was the legendary Mademoiselle Coco. Right from the beginning of The House of Chanel’s explosion onto the fashion scene in the 1920s, she flipped the fashion script by introducing clothes that flattered the female form rather than imposing onto it a superficially exaggerated hourglass silhouette.
From collarless tweed jackets to navy Breton stripes and loose-fitting chemise dresses, Coco created clothes that were not only comfortable but also glamorous – with an edge of liberating masculinity – and her designs were favored by a host of leading starlets of the silver screen, including Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.
However not only was Chanel a style visionary, allowing modern women to escape the restrictive fashions and corsets of the Belle Époque era; France’s First Lady of Style was also a savvy businesswoman – building an empire that included perfume, jewelry and cosmetics right from the get-go.
Under the virtuoso design leadership of Karl Lagerfield since the 1980s, Chanel has continued to go from strength to strength and its coveted feminine treasures are now to be found in every corner of the globe. Here, Elite takes a look at some of the newest and best Chanel boutiques throughout the world which – at last count – had reached over 180. As the legendary lady herself once said: “Fashion passes, but style remains.”
LONDON FLAGSHIP, New Bond Street
Launched in June this year, Chanel’s new UK flagship store in London’s Mayfair is truly a site to behold. Designed by Chanel’s NY architect Peter Marino, the three floor space utilizes materials including soft gold, marble and quartz to create an opulent and intimate setting.
The ground floor – dedicated to fine and costume jewelry, accessories and cosmetics – has a ‘ribbon’ wall made from gold fabric, inspired by Chanel’s collection of Coromandel screens, showcasing handbags including the ever iconic 2:55.
Reached by either lift or marble staircase, the first floor meanwhile contains pieces from the 2012-13 Métiers d’art Paris-Edimbourg collection and features an antique fireplace designed by Jasper Morrison – as well as stunning artworks by Karl Lagerfield. (Read on for more incredible Chanel boutiques…)
Bal Harbour Boutique, Miami, Florida
Reportedly among Chanel’s top ten grossing stores in the world, the brand’s boutique in Bal Harbour Miami reopened in March of this year after extensive interior and exterior renovations.
Based in one of the most affluent zipcodes in Florida, the revitalized boutique is housed in Bal Harbour Shops – a luxury open-air shopping mall which has ranked number one in the US for decades based on sales per square foot.
The 8,000 square-foot store features an extensive selection of Ready-to-Wear, accessories, shoes and cosmetics and resembles Chanel’s typical modern white lightbox with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Avenue Montaigne Boutique, Paris
While the original flagship store at 31 Rue Cambon is undoubtedly the most well-known of all Chanel boutiques, this new Parisian store – opened in March on the same iconic street where Marlene Dietrich once owned an apartment – most definitely has its own unique charms.
Based in one of the best locations in Paris for shopping haute couture fashion and with staff eager to please their brand new clientele, this gorgeous one-stop-shop is 6,500-square-foot of unabashed luxury. Plus the iconic Hôtel Plaza Athénée – where Carrie from Sex and the City once broke her treasured ‘Carrie’ necklace – is right across the street, for those visiting the city exclusively for retail therapy.
Bergdorf Goodman Accessories Salon, 5th Avenue
Whether you’re in the market for a classic leather flap bag, a Mademoiselle Privé watch or even an extraordinary piece from 2012/13 Métiers d’Art Paris-Edimbourg collection, this accessories boutique in luxury New York department store Bergdorf Goodman has got it all.
Reopening in June of this year after extensive refurbishment, this stunning 1400-square-foot salon has now doubled in size and is set within the ‘ultimate Fifth Avenue shopping experience’, where every luxury fashion label – from Burberry to Cavalli and Oscar de la Renta – are to be found under a single roof.
Landmark Prince’s Boutique, Hong Kong
One of Chanel’s most striking flagship stores throughout the entire world, the brand’s vast fashion emporium in Hong Kong’s Landmark Prince’s building is as futuristic as it is impressive and was recently relaunched and extended – reopening in March of this year.
From Armani to Ralph Lauren, Chanel is in excellent company in the six-floor luxury goods mecca of this 29-level skyscraper, and offers visitors everything from accessories, skincare and shoes to menswear.
Kings street Boutique, perth
It may be considered too hot ‘Down Under’ for Chanel’s tweed suits or knitted sweaters, but the brand has several stores nonetheless throughout all of the country’s major cities.
A sixth boutique opened in hotter-than-hot Perth in Western Australia in May of last year, with the luxury fashion precinct of King Street chosen after an extensive search by Chanel to find a prime WA location.
Chanel Managing Director David Blakeley said at the time: ““We’ve been looking for the right boutique space in Perth for many years. It is so important to Chanel not to compromise, so waiting for the right location was paramount.”
Nevsky Prospekt store, st petersburg
Ever since Coco met Prince Dmitry Romanov in Biarritz, Chanel has had strong associations with Russia. Responsible for ingniting the designer’s passion for Russian history, costume and culture, Romanov inspired her iconic “Russian collection” – and the brand is keen to stay loyal to its Russian fans.
Prior to the opening of the new St Petersburg boutique in December of last year (in fitting Russian weather), Chanel had already begun to establish a strong presence in Moscow and this new store in the same building as the “Nevsky 152″ gallery on Nevsky Prospekt is another carefully mined jewel in the brand’s Soviet dynasty.
Deji Plaza Boutique, Nanjing
Chanel has continued to carefully strengthen its presence in China – the fastest growing luxury market on the planet – in recent years. Although there are only ten Chanel boutiques in China at present, all are extremely strategically positioned, including the recently constructed Nanjing boutique.
With the bustling and affluent Nanjing now the second-largest commercial centre in East China after Shanghai, Chanel’s spectacular boutique at luxury shopping Deji Plaza is only set to further contribute to the area’s economic health. With a vast array of Chanel goods on offer – including the Fine Jewelry Ultra Collection, available only at a limited number of stores – this Chanel lover’s paradise is definitely well worth a visit.