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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Texture is practically a religion at the Rue Cambon store, where Marino took pains to avoid any plain or flat surfaces. Where walls are painted black, they received a special treatment to make them resemble rock. On close inspection, gleaming black or burgundy enamel panels glint with embedded flecks of silver or gold. Some walls evoke miniature piano keys. Others, luminescent as real pearls, are composed of woven fiberoptic threads — and then pressed behind glass.

Some of the materials echo Chanel’s famous tweeds, from braided leather stools and nubby gold-flecked sofas to coffee tables depicting matte gold metalwork.

There are high tech features interspersed throughout, too. Giant, backlit images from Chanel advertising campaigns, shot by designer Karl Lagerfeld, peek out from many alcoves, while flat-screen TVs broadcast seasonal fashion shows.

Marino said his starting point for the boutique was Gabrielle Chanel’s famous apartment, which is located several floors above.

“We went through the Chanel apartment and what I did was keep the entire palette of white, black, ivory and gold with a touch of dark eggplant,” he explained. “Then I tried to do everything in a modern way. We’re trying to evoke the feeling of Chanel — elegant, chic and timeless.”

Accessories are carried in several rooms — and walls of sunglasses appear several times — but the overall merchandising scheme is relatively sparse. “We don’t want to overwhelm the customers,” Montenay said. “We want them to feel free to roam around the store and discover things.”

Apart from the knitwear room, ready-to-wear is housed in the back of the store in space previously occupied by Chanel offices and stock rooms on adjacent Rue Duphot. In total, rtw by Lagerfeld gets about 2,700 square feet of space.

Alight at the top of a brief flight of marble steps at the right time and visitors can watch the Chanel runway show on a floor-to-ceiling screen in a darkened room. At other times, the screen disappears, displaying Chanel sport looks. The final rtw room, in the furthest recess of the store, is devoted to eveningwear. Here, mirrored panels are meticulously wrapped in antique gold and silver ribbon — one mile’s worth.
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