Come inside the private quarters of Mademoiselle Chanel. London’s Saatchi Gallery has opened a tantalizing exhibition last week to coincide with London Fashion Week. Second Floor features 34 photographs of the private rooms of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s apartment captured by the artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Making a departure from her iconic portraits, the Turner Prize nominated artist turned her lens to the rooms, furniture, and objects that paint a “psychological portrait” of one of the world’s most celebrated designers. The four-room apartment at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris has remained untouched since Chanel’s death in 1971.
“Shooting at Coco Chanel’s apartment was an unexpectedly absorbing experience,” says Taylor-Johnson. “The essence of Chanel is firmly rooted there in all of her possessions and I truly believe that her spirit and soul still inhabits the second floor.”
Just like her own personal style, Coco Chanel decorated her apartment meticulously and with panache. The photographs illustrate the numbers, patterns, colors, and emblematic animals that are synonymous with the designer’s unique creative vocabulary.
The images show architectural elements, such as the above photo of the hallowed mirrored staircase leading up to the apartment.
There’s rock-crystal chandeliers hung in the salon, which on closer inspection reveal the blossoming of camellias, the number 5, the double C, and the initials G for Gabrielle and W for Westminster.
The designer was famously superstitious and so animal sculptures—from gilded Chinese horses to terracotta camels to talisman lions (which represent her star sign Leo) (above) —and crystal balls are scattered across the apartment.
There are also photographs of the white satin-covered bergère on which Chanel was photographed by Horst in 1937, Coromandel lacquered screens, gilt Venetian mirrors, and walls stacked with leather bound editions of Shakespeare, Voltaire, Byron, and Bronte—each image giving a glimpse into Coco Chanel’s unforgettable taste, both from a personal and an intellectual perspective.
The exhibition continues until October 4, 2014.
Title image source: conversationsabouther.net