Healing crystals, hidden doors and no bedrooms: A fascinating glimpse inside Coco Chanel's Paris apartment
Fashion icon: Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel pictured at her Paris apartment in 1959
Her name has become a byword for luxury fashion, and her life story is the subject of countless books and films.
Now new photographs of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel's Paris apartment reveal the space where all her ideas were born.
As intriguing as the woman who inhabited it, the images published today on The Coveteur, show how the living quarters at 31 Rue Cambon remain exactly as the late designer left them.
Though it is more traditional than the clothing she designed, Chanel's passion for Oriental style is clear throughout, with ornate lacquered Chinese screens, antique vases and sculptures of Hindu deities.
Deeply superstitious, lucky symbols such as a frog with its mouth open, pairs of Japanese deer and wheat motifs (a sign of prosperity) are scattered across the apartment.
She believed in the healing power of crystal, hence the chandeliers in ever room, and lions also make a regular appearance, a reference to her Leo star sign.
The apartment, which played host to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Salvador Dali and Pablo
Picasso, is also home to priceless treasures that were gifts from Chanel's famous friends.
They include an ancient
Russian icon from Igor Stravinsky, gold boxes that were a gift from the Duke of Westminster, a sculpture by Alberto
Giacometti, also made for Chanel by the artist and a painting by Salvador Dali.
Radical design: Chanel herself designed the sofa in the salon at 31 Rue Cambon. It was important to her that it was comfortable, and she took the unusual decision to have it made in suede, rather than silk or velvet
All that glitters… The gold boxes on the coffee table were a gift from the Duke of Westminster, while the hand sculpture was made for Chanel by the Italian artist Alberto Giacometti
But certain quirks reveal fascinating details about Chanel's lifestyle and personality.
There is, for example, no bedroom.
This is because the apartment was used solely for work and entertaining.
Chanel chose to sleep instead in a suite at The Ritz, nearby on the
Unique decor: The Salon was where Chanel entertained guests including Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. She is said to have hated doors and obscured them with Chinese screens
Symbolic: The ornate Chinese screens and wall panels feature coromandel birds and camellia flowers, which came to be a signature for the Chanel fashion house that continues to be used to this day
Lucky visitors, now just limited to journalists and Chanel's VIPs, may also observe that doorways are all obscured by those decorative wooden screens.
Chanel archivist Odile Babin revealed to NPR: 'Mademoiselle Chanel hated doors. She hoped that by
placing them in front of the door, her guests might not remember to
Those screens had purpose far beyond
enticing guests to stay, however. The coromandel bird design features camellia flowers,
the shape of which came to be a signature motif for the fashion house.
Spiritual: The apartment houses many keepsakes that demonstrate Chanel's superstitions. One photo shows how she placed a crystal inside the mouth of a sculpture of a frog, a symbol of love, luck, money and health
Modern tribute: A tiny birdcage was the inspiration for the 1992 Coco perfume campaign, starring Vanessa Paradis, that was set in the Chanel apartment on Rue Cambon
Much of the furniture was custom-made of
amended according to the designer's directives. The sofa, for example,
was designed by her. The Coveteur article reveals that she wanted it to
be very comfortable. A radical decision at the time, she had it made in
suede, rather than silk or velvet.
Two side tables were also given a Chanel makeover. She had the marble tops removed and replaced with black lacquer.
Mirrors were designed to be octagonal in shape – this too was significant. The Place Vendome is in the shape of an octagon, and so too was the shape of the stopper for the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle.
Fashion history: The apartment, situated above the flagship boutique on Rue Cambon, remains exactly as Chanel left it. Today, though, just the label's VIPs are permitted access
Treasures: The ornaments the designer surrounded herself with include pairs of Japanese deer (left)
East-meets-west: Though the apartment was relatively traditional in style, there is a heavy Oriental influence, much of it chosen to signify love, luck and prosperity
The apartment is entered via a sweeping spiral staircase with Art Deco panels of mirrors running along the walls.
It also has its place in fashion
history: Chanel would watch the audience's reaction to her designs
during shows – it was the only place she could see them, but they could
not see her.
Chanel was not the only designer to take
inspiration from her apartment though. Karl Lagerfeld, the revered head
of the fashion house today, regularly references the details that were
important to her.
Oriental theme: Sculptures of deities line the bookcases, while Chinese screens obscure the doors
Seeing stars: A table is decorated with lions, which Chanel loved because they represent her zodiac sign
Homage: Today Karl Lagerfeld takes a large dose of inspiration from Chanel's former apartment
One of his most memorable catwalk shows,
for the spring/summer 2010 collection, saw models walk a catwalk strewn
with wheat, with his finale bride and groom even taking a tumble in the
And his couture show of the same year saw the models walk around a giant gold lion at the Paris Opera.
This year's couture show was no less of a tribute, Mr Lagerfeld transformed Paris's Grand Palais into a neon Place Vendome at night, echoing the walk Chanel would take each evening from Rue Cambon to the Ritz.
Vantage point: The designer (pictured in 1954, right) would watch the reaction of front-row guests at her fashion shows from the stairway to her apartment, where she could see them, but they couldn't see her
Art Deco: The stairway is still covered with cream carpet, while the walls are lined with panels of mirrors
For the full feature on Coco Chanel's apartment, visit thecoveteur.com