Cover Mademoiselle Privé exhibition is now open at West Bund Art Centre, Shanghai.

Everything you need to know about this exhibition which is now open at West Bund Centre, Shanghai until June 2.

In 2009, Chanel journeyed to the east – in Shanghai to be precise –  for a splendid showcase of its pre-fall 2010 collection and hand in hand, a Karl Lagerfeld-directed movie was also released. Paris-Shanghai: A Fantasy, a reimagination of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in China, gushes about appreciation of Oriental art and craftsmanship.

Mademoiselle Coco had never set foot in China, but she was in love with the crafts and culture from this part of the world. The copious Coromandel lacquer screens in her apartment, among others, afford solid proof of her obsession with Oriental art.

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Chanel’s latest Mademoiselle Privé exhibition in Shanghai marks a special anniversary, as well as an assertion of the luxury house’s determination to keep up with the digital age while straddling good local market knowledge and strategic consistency of the brand’s code.

Housed in an old hangar in the West Bund area, the expansive exhibition lifts the curtains off the inner workings of Chanel, spearheaded by the House’s esteemed captains – Coco and Karl. It’s a breathtaking celebration of luxury, craftsmanship and elegance, at its finest.

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Why Mademoiselle Privé?

The door that opens into Coco’s creation studio on the third floor of 31 rue Cambon in Paris has the words Mademoiselle Privé emblazoned on and it is through this door, Coco would enter and get lost in what she does best. Metaphorically, for this exhibition, it is an invitation to enter the Chanel universe comprising haute couture, Chanel N°5 and high jewellery.

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A triad of “houses”

The Mademoiselle Privé exhibition spreads out over 6000 square metres and are anchored on 3 main addresses that are key to the brand. There’s 31 (rue Cambon) which holds the Creation Studio and the haute couture ateliers and N°5 opens up into a space that encapsulates the iconic perfume, created by Ernest Beaux and Coco in Grasse. Door number 18 references the fine jewellery store in Place Vendôme and it’s simply brilliant.

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Chanel N°5, an icon

No other perfume has been as groundbreaking as the 1921-released Chanel N°5. It defied convention from its very conception: breaking the rules of single floral fragrance to include a bouquet of 80 scents, the first fragrance to use aldehydes to add layers of complexity and it also pioneered new forms of advertising. In this room, you will be acquainted with the pure essence of this iconic perfume created by Coco and Ernest Beaux.

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Haute couture at 31 rue Cambon

Immerse yourself in the world of haute couture re-invented by Karl, a convergence of modernism with a timelessness synonymous to the luxury house. When met at the exhibition, Bruno Pavlovsky – the president of fashion at Chanel said: “Haute couture expresses the best of fashion, it is perfection in terms of design, materials, finishing and pushing boundaries like the 3D suit made without a single stitch using the selective laser sintering technique. This room is my favourite part of the exhibition and I’m sure many would share my sentiment.”

Take your time to soak in the 7 highlights of Chanel’s haute couture, underlined by concrete, aluminium, wood, neoprene, lace and tweed. And at the heart of the room, Karl Lagerfeld’s work table in the Creation Studio at 31 rue Cambon takes centrestage, like a shrine for his fans to pay homage. The recorded conversations between the creations is also a nice touch. “Thank God we’re both wearing tweed” is on replay in the writer’s Chanel state of mind.

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18 place Vendôme shines bright

When it comes to creating inimitable jewellery pieces, the future-thinking fashion visionary cleverly marries breathtaking aesthetics with functionality, like eliminating fastenings or apparent settings to give the creation a flexible fluidity. She also made the jewellery transformable, where a single necklace can be detached into bracelet and brooch. See all the reedition of the “Bijoux de Diamants” collection in this treasure trove of dazzling designs and gems.

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Métiers d'art appreciation

Besides the 3 main “houses”, there’s also a mini exhibition celebrating the creative expressions of the brand for visitors to explore. Year after year, for decades, Chanel puts out the finest collections because of its longstanding relationship with numerous fashion métiers d'art such as embroidery, goldsmithery, pleating and shoe- and hat-making as well as working with feathers, leather, flowers, tweed, lace and silk. See how the House preserves the savoir-faire that was masterminded by the great Coco.

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China-Paris link

Coco’s love for Coromandel lacquer screens is also immortalised in this exhibition, in a perfect tribute of her love for Oriental art. In room number 18, three imposingly gorgeous screens christened Lofty Mountain, Early Spring and Garden of Pleasure overlook the “Bijoux de Diamants” collection. The screens were reinterpreted by Chinese artist Wu Guanzhen. Read all about the artist and his journey creating the Coromandel screens for this exhibition here.

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Movie screenings

Don’t we all love movies? A large screen has been erected within the exhibition space and we couldn’t be happier. It plays the entire gamut of Chanel short movies in even-handed chapters of the brand’s journey. The narratives will satisfy any fan of the brand, and we found it to be exceptionally engaging and inspiring.

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Anchored by WeChat

Above Video: Courtesy of Chanel

“If we, as a brand, want to be meaningful in any country, it’s a must to have strong local understanding. In China, we knew the best way to engage with our fans here is through WeChat and the app complements the exhibition for a seamless experience,” explained Bruno about the dedicated WeChat service account and mini-programme under the “Mademoiselle Privé” name.

Visitors can book their tickets and get updates on the exhibition through this app. Also use it as a guide to the exhibition and scan the on-site QR codes to unlock audio, video and photos that will open the universe of Chanel. The “Mademoiselle Privé” Douyin account, on the other hand, allows visitors to interact with stickers and augmented reality experience for the duration of the exhibition.

The Mademoiselle Privé exhibition is on until June 2 at West Bund Art Centre. It has everything you need to know that makes Chanel oh-so-desirable, so be sure to put it on your Shanghai agenda!

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