Behind its stucco heritage listed facade, over the past year and a half Chanel has quietly undertaken the ground-up gutting of its London horology and fine jewellery boutique. Some six years in the planning, and overseen down to the placement of the last sheath of wheat by Peter Marino himself, the complete transformation sees the former boutique’s one floor of retail space bolstered to three, and lavished from floor-to-ceiling with a golden gleam.
Comprising 234.5 sq m of retail area over three floors, the 418 sq m revamped boutique (including offices) has more than doubled the size of the previous jewellery store, which opened at the same spot in 1997. Several distinct areas feature interiors inspired by the details of Chanel’s famed apartment that have become part of the brand’s iconography. These include large golden lion heads proudly keeping guard over spectacular displays of pearls and diamonds; gilded wheatsheaf mirrors and sconces; and crystal balls and chandeliers which reflect Gabrielle’s belief in the stone’s healing powers.
More like a sumptuous boutique hotel than retail space, the store is furnished with a mixture of antiques sourced from around the world, specially-commissioned contemporary art and bespoke pieces. On the ground floor, which showcases the latest fine jewellery and watch collections, walls are lined with 12 leaves of a Qing Dynasty coromandel screen – a signature of Chanel’s Parisian abode – while a cosy seating area centres around a red antique marble fireplace. Floors throughout are laid with vintage Oriental rugs or custom-designed carpets designed in keeping with house codes, such as their signature tweed and iconic art deco motifs.
This townhouse’s grand environs – from its tufted ‘tweed’ carpets to its smooth suede walls – are so sumptuous that even the megawatt jewellery on show seems perfectly at home dotted between the address’ contemporary artworks, gilt 18th century Venetian mirrors, 19th century Chinese rugs and antique Louis XV chairs. Nodding to Mademoiselle Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment, a crystal ball sits atop the founder’s preferred scroll-armed coffee table, while Coromandel screens from the Qing Dynasty (dating back to 1671) have been fixed to the ground floor’s walls, just as they are appointed in Coco Chanel’s private residence.
But antiques aside, the boutique’s design centrepiece is Goossens’ ‘bijoux espace’ rock crystal and bronze staircase. The balustrade, which joins the two main salons, was made entirely by hand, and encircles the store’s bespoke glass lift. The house’s relationship with Goossens’ studio dates back to founder Robert Goossen’s work with Coco Chanel, while the business itself was acquired by Chanel in 2005.
With so much of London’s fine jewellery district currently under construction (De Grisogono is working with David Collins Studio and Van Cleef & Arpels with Jouin Manku), what is crystal clear is that Chanel has set the design bar in solid gold here.