The gilt-covered woodland scene that frames the salon’s marble mantelpiece is reminiscent of the work of muralist Josep Maria Sert, Chanel’s close friend.
Chanel’s private apartment at 31 rue
Cambon rests above the company’s
flagship Paris boutique.
Above the bustling Chanel boutique and corporate headquarters at 31 rue Cambon, the private Paris apartment of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel has remained faithfully preserved since her death in 1971. Today, visitors still climb the mirrored, spiral staircase on which she famously debuted her couture collections, and pass through a pair of unmarked double doors into an elaborately furnished residence that seems as timeless and tailored as one of the designer’s iconic fashions.
At the center of the salon—the three-room apartment’s largest and most lavish space—sits Chanel’s oversize beige suede sofa, designed for seduction and lingering conversation. Among the chamber’s many treasures are a pair of bronze deer, which once belonged to the Marchesa Luisa Casati, and a table shaped to resemble a sheaf of wheat (a symbol of good luck and prosperity), crafted by close friend Salvador Dalí.
During her fashion shows, Chanel used to conceal herself from the audience by sitting on the fifth step of this mirrored stair.
Six suede-upholstered chairs surround the dining room’s walnut table. Symmetrical alcoves showcase a pair of crystal-encrusted gilt Venetian mirrors.
In the dining room, a crystal chandelier (featuring an intricate motif of Cs and 5s) is suspended from a curved ceiling, while in the apartment’s tiny study, a pair of Venetian blackamoors stands at attention beside one of Mademoiselle’s original work chairs. Throughout, Coromandel screens and gilt-framed mirrors line the apartment’s walls, reflecting and concealing its doorways and contributing to the intimate space’s sense of grandeur. Although the apartment possesses no actual bedroom—Chanel slept in a suite at the Ritz across the street—the space, brimming with mementos and collections, was her true home and sanctuary.
Chanel believed in the power of lucky charms; her home is filled with resonant images of lions (she was a Leo), sheaves of wheat, and, of course, her famous intertwined initials.
The designer was an avid collector of Coromandel screens, which she used to panel her walls and frame her doorways.
Throughout her home, Chanel employed mirrors—such as this ornate Venetian beauty—to create an atmosphere of mystery and romance.
This ornate gilt clock features an angel of death wielding a scythe, a workaholic’s terrifying reminder of the shortness of time.