the more you know the less you need

the more you know the less you need

The Fashionable Abode: Chanel

The Fashionable Abode: Chanel

Is your home as fashionable as you are? Are you as fashionable as your home?
If your house was a fashion house which one would it be?

Coco Chanel


An interior is a natural projection of the soul.
~ Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel | 1921 | Photo: François Kollar
Coco Chanel 1921; Photo: François Kollar

The stylistic codes of Chanel’s legendary founder Gabrielle – pearls, camellias, comets, stars, lions, black and white, quilting– are at the heart of the identity of the brand and many were to be found in her decor.

Chanel ‘s private surroundings were exotic, idiosyncratic, luxurious, and glamorous. Her apartment in the building she bought in the 1920s at 31 Rue Cambon for her very successful fashion business (still Chanel headquarters to this day), was used solely for working and entertaining (there is no bedroom) because in fact she lived at Place Vendôme at the Paris Ritz across the street for 34 years.

There are four floors to Maison Chanel: the Chanel shop on the ground level; the Haute Couture atelier on the second floor; her apartment on the third level; and Chanel’s workshop (which became Karl Lagerfeld’s office) on the fourth. From the rooftop are reportedly some of the best views of Paris.

Keys to Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s Apartment at 31 Rue Cambone Paris
Keys to Chanel’s Apartment; Photo: Ann Street Studio

Chanel’s private apartment, preserved since her death in 1971, is filled with clues to her complex personality, her passions, as well as her design sensibility.

Chanel, April 21, 1954; Photo AP/Shutterstock
Photography: Jake Rosenberg; Coveteur

Personal items and meaningful symbols make the small apartment intimate and enchanting; gifts of art from her friends: an ancient Russian icon from Igor Stravinsky, a golden hand sculpted for her by Alberto Giacometti, and a shaft of wheat painted by Salvador Dali. Three gold-lined boxes, gifts from the Duke of Westminister are also on display.

Photography: Jake Rosenberg; Coveteur

Many beautiful leather-bound books adorn Coco’s apartment proving that books do furnish a room.

Photography: Jake Rosenberg, Coveteur

Camellias bloom on the ornate 17th-century Oriental screens that line the walls—these perfectly symmetrical pure-white flowers became a recurring motif for the Chanel fashion house. Chanel fell head over heels for the camellia after one was given to her by her polo-playing lover, Boy Capel. She started pinning silk versions to her lapels, her hair and the blossoms appeared on the black-and-gold-lacquered Coromandel screens in her apartment.

Photography: Jake Rosenberg, Coveteur

Chanel was a design genius, and not just in fabric. She envisioned the incredible Art Deco faceted mirrored spiral staircase which connected all four stories of 31 Rue Cambon and allowed her to view all levels from a certain vantage without being seen herself. Carpeted, as Mademoiselle directed, in “a colour like sand,” the staircase was dutifully sprayed every morning with Chanel  N°5 by her staff just moments before her arrival.stair1

Chanel designed a suede sofa and had it custom-made for her home. Like her clothes, Chanel designed it to be both comfortable, and beautiful. She chose caramel-coloured suede upholstery which was highly unusual both in colour and fabrication at the time. Typically, sofas were covered in velvet or silk. In a stroke of brilliance and modernity, Chanel had the matching back cushions quilted and added black leather ones as well. The sofa has been endlessly copied and remains stylish to this day.

The diagonally-quilted cushions echo her iconic quilted handbag. The 2.55 flap bag is Coco Chanel’s original design launched in February 1955 (thus the moniker 2.55) with the chain strap and the Mademoiselle closure.

An exquisite chandelier of crystal, amethyst, and topaz which Chanel designed contains within its pattern the intertwined Cs which became the Chanel logo she created in 1925. Also, the visual form of the number 5  in the chandelier references the name of her fragrance and her superstitious belief that 5 was her lucky number.

The Chanel logo, designed by Coco Chanel herself in 1925
The Chanel Logo designed by Coco Chanel,1925 

The shape of the octagonal mirror in the entryway of the apartment was modelled for the stopper of the Chanel N°5 bottles, released 5 May 1921, to select clientele at Chanel, rue Cambon, Paris.

Chanel's Apartment | Photo:

For Mademoiselle Chanel, style was everywhere, you just had to see it.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
~ Coco Chanel


Photo by Horst P. Horst, 1960.

Post Photo: Chanel, 1944, AFP