WITH CHANEL IN PARIS, CHANEL APARTMENT TOUR
6 a.m. – Just hours ago I was stepping off a plane, having spent a wonderful weekend in Monaco with my family. Now I’m wide-awake; so excited about discovering the magical world of CHANEL in Paris. Their amazing team hand delivered a carefully planned out itinerary for my trip and now I’m trying to repack.
7 a.m. – Mornings are not my best time of day, and I’m too sleepy and excited to focus on the task at hand. Who knows what will end up with me in Paris! I snap my luggage shut and head for St. Pancras Station. I need some music to wake me up before I meet CHANEL team. My journey by train to Paris Gare Du Nord is a very blurry one, but I’m almost there and I’m getting super excited now!
11:30 a.m. – CHANEL kindly arranged for a driver to meet us upon our arrival in Paris, and we were whisked away through the mystifying labyrinth of Parisian streets. Our destination was none other than, 112 Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Honore – the fabulous five-star Hotel Le Bristol – a hotspot for buyers, actresses and models, and right next-door to the President of France! I was given the five-star treatment, courtesy of CHANEL, who had everything arranged. I didn’t even have to check in or worry about my luggage. My room was ready and waiting. Now that’s what I call travelling in style! I could get used to this lifestyle.
A quick change and a call to Room Service for batteries – an amusing request. In less than a few minutes, I had batteries for my camera flash! The wonderful extras of staying in a five-star hotel in Paris!
So let’s see how I did packing half asleep this morning. My favourite Stella McCartney jacket, and my leather trousers from Alice and Olivia – a spontaneous but a bargain, considering how dramatically cheaper everything is in US dollars. (It’s enough to make my old masters of finance proud!)
SHOP THE LOOK
12:30 p.m. – My gracious hosts have arranged a delightful lunch at Le Jardin Francais, at the Hotel Le Bristol. After a cup of green tea with more caffeine than coffee, I’m wide-awake and ready to explore the world of CHANEL.
2:30 p.m. – The next stop on the agenda is the magical workshop of the Maison Lesage. On this occasion, the workshop was relatively quiet, as most of the staff was away in London, working at the CHANEL exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery.
Since its inception in 1924, Maison Lesage has been creating works of art for Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear and accessories for many famous French fashion houses. Each design takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to complete by highly skilled individuals.
In 2002, the Chanel Group acquired the Maison Lesage, together with an amazing Lesage Collection, an historical archive of couture craft and embroidery techniques spanning 130 years. It’s a real treasure chest to explore.
Probably the best-dressed gnome in France! We’re just 30 minutes from Central Paris at the heart of the fashion world and the couture craft of Lesage.
During our visit to Lesage, we were lucky enough to learn the embroidery process, starting with the pattern.
Each design is reproduced on tracing paper.
Then a technique called “Piquetage” is applied to the design by making an outline of the drawing in evenly spaced perforations.
Then with a little talc, the design is cleverly transferred onto the fabric through the perforations. You can learn this technique and more at the embroidery school founded by Lesage in 1992. They welcome anyone who is passionate about embroidery.
Can you imagine walking down the aisle in an embroidered wedding dress by CHANEL? That would be my dream come true. I remember how Poppy Delevingne wowed fashion fans with her CHANEL wedding dress. After visiting the Lesage workshop and seeing the artistry and craftsmanship of this beautiful embroidery, no other wedding dress will do!
The Maison Lesage is home to 70,000 samples of embroidery art, the largest collection in the world, including those from the most memorable fashion shows – Madeleine Vionnet, Schiaparelli, Yves Saint-Laurent, Christian Lacroix, and all the famous international Couture establishments. With each passing season, this collection gets larger as embroidery artists continue to work hard creating exceptional pieces for Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, CHANEL, and the Haute Couture and luxury ready-to-wear elite.
It was amazing to go through all the embroidery, box after box, inspiration after inspiraiton from as early as 1920. Just like art, this archive is housed in a special room with climate control and protection from fire.
Look! How beautiful! I’ve posted more of my embroidery discoveries on Pinterest @Gemologue. Check it out!
5 p.m. – After this wonderful experience at Maison Lesage, I had a few spare minutes to tour around Saint Honore. I wasted no time in visiting my favourite chocolate shop called Michel Cluizel, like I do every time I am in Paris. After my chocolate fix, I visited four or five CHANEL boutiques on Saint Honore. My favourite is the CHANEL shoe boutique – one of my weaknesses, though jewellery will always be my Number One.
Sleepy but excited, I’m back at the hotel and ready for a wardrobe change. A dress by Ekaterina Kukhareva with a Russian twist, and an unbelievably comfortable pair of boots from Azzedine Alaia that I found in Nice. Who can resist the temptation of being 190 cm tall! Besides, I don’t do anything half way. It’s either heels or flats!
I met with CHANEL’s lovely team over a glass of champagne at Le Bar Du Bristol. The chic Parisian décor, I just love; and the crowd is not half bad either! (Name drop: Kristen Stewart sitting at a table with her girlfriends, looking very grunge!)
8 p.m. – (Dinner time) Le Grand Vefour on 17 Rue De Beaujolais. What an exceptionally beautiful place this is, one that I urge you to visit next time you’re in Paris. I’m definitely coming back here! When I was in Monaco, I was reading about the Russian Ambassador Alexander Kurakin who is said to have introduced the Service à la Ruse to France in the early 1800s. It contrasts with Service à la Française, which is a showy display of the entire meal at the beginning of dinner. Kurakin’s method was to serve each course, one after the other. Service à la Ruse later caught on in England too.
The food was absolutely delicious, but the desserts were out of this world – all six of them! Take a look at this beautiful creation. This decorative triangular piece houses the pear as if in memory of the dear partridge in the tree at Christmas time! (I think I’ve had too much champagne and way too many desserts!) Time to go to bed. As I climb into bed in my hotel room, my mind dances with images of all the beautiful things I’ve seen today. Thank you, CHANEL! See you in the morning.
7.30 a.m. – (or 6.30 a.m. London time) Such thoughtful gifts from CHANEL waiting for me in my room. They really know how to treat a woman! I’ve been so wrapped up in all the excitement, I was rushing around and slipped on the marble tile in the bathroom and pulled something in my lower back. Oh, the dangerous life of a Jewellery Blogger!
But never fear, it’s just a little scratch! After a scrumptuous breakfast, I’ll be back to normal and ready to enjoy my day in Paris. Thank you CHANEL! You’re the perfect hosts!
11 a.m. – First stop: 31, rue Cambon – CHANEL’s couture atelier and Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment. The atelier is where all the real magic happens, where all of the artisans are hard at work on the latest couture collection.
Haute Couture is the name given to the highest quality of fashion as defined by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris. Those fashion houses worthy of the title employ high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric, and the most highly skilled artisans in the world. With minute attention to detail, these talented people often use hand-executed techniques and spend hundreds and hundreds of hours creating fashion art.
Of all the creations I saw at the Maison Lesage, I chose this beautiful dress. Truly amazing!
A piece like this can take up to 1,000 hours to create, which includes 300 hours to hand-embroider sequins or beading, and an additional 300 hours just to put the piece together. Each creation is made to measure, right down to the millimetre. This attention to detail can be seen in the exquisite final product.
How many famous models and CHANEL designs have walked down this famed staircase? What a rare treat! Once a runway for Coco’s latest designs, the mirrored staircase helped Mademoiselle spy on her audience to see how her newest collection was received.
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
I just want to sit a moment and take it all in. As I look around the apartment, so many influences pop out – camellias, black lacquer, luxury, and a beautiful symmetry.
Such an eclectic mix of styles. Like Asian-inspired Art Deco luxury.
You can see how much Karl Lagerfeld is inspired by this place too. If I drop a few hints, you will know what I am talking about: marble lion and ball, miniature birdcage, golden ears of wheat – should I go on? These objects have featured in many of Lagerfeld’s runway shows.
What an amazing time, living the CHANEL dream. If we hurry, we’ll be just in time for lunch at my favourite Hotel Costes; it never disappoints. The courtyard is always buzzing with the fashion crowd.
I couldn’t visit Paris without stopping by the Place Vendome and the wonderful world of CHANEL jewellery.
Thanks for sharing my CHANEL journey to Paris with me. It was one of the most exciting days I’ve ever had. Hope you enjoyed it too!
7 p.m. – Exhausted and happy to be home in London. I say goodbye to the fabulous CHANEL team. I’m off to help Julia with her Nick Knight Mastered assignment. She said she’d treat me to oysters! Life is good!
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Photographed by Julia Flit. Styling and art direction by Liza Urla. All photos and videos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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