"Chanel and Place Vendôme are very linked. She lived in the Ritz, now there is a Jewelry shop, it’s very Paris, there are many photos of her on the place Vendôme. The big site of the Ritz is also still the Ritz, a part of the place Vendôme." Karl Lagerfeld

From the 1920s onwards, Mademoiselle Chanel refused to "settle down" and stayed at the Ritz Hotel occasionally before she decided in 1937 to move in and rent a suite on the third floor.

Place Vendôme was one of her sources of inspiration. The octagonal cap of her first perfume, Chanel N°5 recalls its geometry and proportions. Later on, the Première watch equally reminds of this aesthetic.

Today, directly facing her suite at the Ritz is the Chanel Fine Jewelry boutique which opened at number 18 in 1997.

Photo: 1937 - Gabrielle Chanel at the balcony of her suite at the Ritz Hotel, Paris ©Photo Roger Schall / Collection Schall



From the dizzy heights of whimsy, perched atop a black and white column on a replica Place Vendôme, a monochrome Coco Chanel decidedly wasn’t welcoming her guests at the Haute Couture runway show in the Grand Palais, Paris. Stonily surveying the evening-time hustle and bustle of summer 2011, the fashion world, and indeed the century, the arrogance of Coco’s stance is irreverently turned on its head as we lift our gaze and see right up her skirt. The ‘behind-the-scenes’ of fashion, we presume. Karl Lagerfeld ever fondly amuses himself with the muse. His Haute Couture collection spectacularly sweeps us through the silhouettes, fetishes and emblems that inform the Chanel aesthetic, from 1880 to 2011.

Staying for the moment in 2011, androgynous touches peek out from behind ultra-feminine constraints, luxury resists ostentation, and sheer elegance is infiltrated with unmistakably edgy cool. A boat-neck fuchsia evening gown is accessorized with embroidered black voile fingerless gloves. And the rocker overtones are stepped up a notch with a biker-esque zip running the length of a quilted evening skirt suit, unapologetic alongside sequin and embroidery detail. Feather, voile and lace fringing gives sass and spirit to black and white swans of the evening.
Lagerfeld offers a fresh spin on Godet skirts, sumptuous accented basque jackets, Peter Pan collars, collarless suits and straight-cut suits, with a sexily-slashed shoulder here, a glittering optical illusion of rhinestone buttons there, or perhaps a classic Karl high-necked collar to show off the ladylike posture of a head held high. Two-toned boots are transparent or fully embroidered by Massaro, exuding youth and movement.

Looking back to 1880, the boater hat is the sassy accessory of choice. It crops up throughout the collection, adorned with feathers, tulle or ribbon, embroidered, scattered with camellias, covered in tweed, serving every turn, and punctuating the collection like an exclamation mark. The boater hat is forever tied to Coco Chanel who, loving its simplicity, borrowed it from the garb of rowers and bicycling aficionados in the early 20th century, and promptly made it her own. The starry night in the Grand Palais conjures Renoir’s 1881 painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, which depicts a scene at the Maison Fournaise in Chatou, France. To the strains of a boating refrain: “In their jerseys and straw hats, the rowers are more charming than any of these young dandies!” (from Alain Chartier’s 1859 painting “Canotage, Glouglou, Stella et Mignonne”).
This dazzling collection gaily skips back and forth through the decades to offer a young, ever elegant silhouette… with sass.

Watch the full show online on



Evanescent Metamorphoses is a film created by Karl Lagerfeld for the Fall-Winter 2011/12 Pre-collection.

Karl Lagerfeld plays on the ambiguity between masculine and feminine. In a dreamlike atmosphere, he films model Kristina Salinovic, whose initially androgynous look becomes increasingly feminine as her numerous metamorphoses take place.



Celebrities at the Fall-Winter 2011/12 Haute Couture show
Grand Palais, Paris




Grand Palais, Paris, July 5th

Needless to explain, Place Vendôme forms a beautiful octagonal shape when viewed from above. And, this square connects the ends of two streets that face each other.

The set for the show was a very abstract reconstruction of Place Vendôme within the Grand Palais, where the show took place. The abstracted square itself formed the runway, and the models walked around the central monumental column, which was abstracted in the same style.

The audience entered the square from one of the streets, and walked through the square to reach their respective seats. When the show started, the models then entered from the opposite street. The audience and the models thus walked in the same runway space separated only by a short time. It suddenly occurred to me that we audience members might be actors playing some part in the set ourselves. That strange feeling came upon me, and I started to imagine that I was actually watching this show in the real city streets. For example, like this:

“I finished a slightly early dinner, and am enjoying a pleasant walk through the streets of Paris under a sky tinged a soft, tender red. All of a sudden, I walk out into a large city square. Mesmerized by the well balanced proportions of this space (it seems it wants to be called a “space” more than a “city square”) and the sheer beauty of the facade that forms its shape, I stop and stand for a while. The octagonal piece of evening sky visible above is very beautiful. Then, from the street on the other side, people clad in clothes I have never seen before flow into the city square one after another in a line. A pageant of clothing that seems to be from another world flows right past my very eyes. Taken by surprise, I do not know if this scene is real or a dream, and I ponder it from many different angles. While caught up in this musing, the strange procession disappears and a magical party begins in the very same spot. People gather as if from out of nowhere. And I find myself participating in the party as well. In Paris at dusk, in a beautiful space where everything is possible and provided, it all happened in the blink of an eye.”

Visualizing the imagery of the actual Place Vendôme, I enjoyed just such a fantasy during the show.

Photos: Olivier Saillant



Fittings with Karl Lagerfeld at the Studio

Photographed by Benoît Peverelli



Fall-Winter 2011/12 Haute Couture
Studio 7L, Paris

Photos: Olivier Saillant


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