The Chanel brand conjures up many things: (quilting, pearls, no.5 perfume to name a few) and this is what this exhibition Mademoiselle Privé at the Saatchi Gallery was all about.
A whole room was dedicated to each element of the Chanel brand.
We were encouraged to download an interactive Chanel app before entering the exhibition, which would be part of the experience as you explored the show. The app located where you were in the exhibition and a video relating to the room would start playing.
The first room was a replica of the entrance to the Chanel studio. When I moved my phone around the room, an image of Coco Chanel’s apartment appeared. As I moved around the physical room, my phone moved around the virtual room. It was quite funny at first to see everyone walking around with their phones aloft but it soon felt normal.
The white hallways between the rooms were trimmed in black like the Chanel packaging. The rooms weren’t numbered so you could wander from room to room and revisit them for a second look.
The millinery room showcased the beginnings of Coco Chanel’s career in hat making. The whole room depicted her hat shop, the hatmaking process and wallpapered walls with framed pictures, all in black and white 2D drawings which came to life when the phone was held over them.
Chanel is known for its beading and embroidery by the couture embroidery specialist Lesage. A selection of dresses were displayed over columns of light to show the detail. I spent a long time in that room trying to decipher how it was done.
Another room of dresses showcased the tailoring alongside photography of the famous wearers of Chanel.
The perfume room felt like I was stepping inside a giant perfume lab. Liquid and steam sounds played as each drum of coloured liquid opened to reveal a different scent. I returned here a few times. It was like someing from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
I also took part in one of the three workshops; applique (like 3D embroidery). Before starting, I browsed examples of embroidery used in previous collections. I can’t imagine how long the samples alone took.
White lab coat wearing assistants brought us to the table already set up with supplies. For time reasons, we used glue but generally they sew the applique. A large Camelia flower (a famous Chanel motif) and some smaller black and white daisy-like flowers were laid out next to a blank square of fabric. Each person was free to lay them how they wished.
I went for a 60s mod look. I could have stayed here all day, pretending to work for Chanel.
Chanel themed slot machines from their last couture show lined the hallway. Probably the nearest I’ll come to a Chanel show but one can dream.
We were all given a Chanel poster and tote bag as we left, which was a nice touch. For such a luxury brand, the exhibition felt very inclusive.