Chanel’s Mega Maisons: Remodeled Paris Store Now Largest in World

Chanel has unveiled its largest store in the world - the refurbished and enlarged Rue Cambon flagship in Paris - the first of three mega-redos.

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One of the ready-to-wear salons.

Photo By Stephane Feugere and Oliver Saillant

Accessories are showcased in several areas in the store.

Photo By Stephane Feugere and Oliver Saillant

The view from the entrance toward the ready-to-wear level.

Photo By Stephane Feugere and Oliver Saillant

A screen broadcasts Chanel fashion shows regularly.

Photo By Stephane Feugere and Oliver Saillant

PARIS — Call it the first leg of Chanel’s triple crown.

The revitalized flagship on Rue Cambon here — the first of the luxe brand’s three major redo’s, with Tokyo and New York to follow — is now the biggest Chanel store in the world. And yes, one encounters marble, gold and even flecks of diamond practically at every turn.

But as Chanel president Françoise Montenay stressed, the 8,600-square-foot flagship on Rue Cambon was built on a “human scale,” where luxurious materials are ubiquitous, but never ostentatious.

“Everything has been done to enhance the products, not overpower them,” she said during an exclusive preview of the store, which was expanded by some 3,400 square feet and completely refurbished over the past year by interior designer Peter Marino. “We have huge collections and we really need to be able to show what we have.”

The Cambon store is the first of three “megastores” slated for special design treatment. The next, a four-story unit in the Ginza district in Tokyo, is slated to bow in December 2004, with a major overhaul of the Manhattan flagship on 57th Street following in 2005.

New features include an area dedicated to Chanel knitwear and innerwear — the only one in the world — plus a sumptuous VIP area in the basement that’s roughly the size of a one-bedroom apartment.

“We wanted Cambon to be very special,” Montenay said, “and we want Chanel to surprise. We have customers who come in two or three times a week and they want to see new things.”

That shouldn’t be a problem. The store is so large that visitors even have a choice of three entrances — each with a signature white marble threshold. But the idea is for shoppers to navigate through a series of intimate “salons,” each with a different product focus and distinct decorative touches. Even the carpets — all beige and made of the highest quality wools and silks in the world — have subtly different weaves in each room.

The idea, Montenay said, was to avoid monotony and uniformity, while maintaining an overall color scheme and mood.
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