THE CHANEL DIARIES: How does Caroline de Maigret achieve her effortless, Parisian style? On Tuesday night, the Chanel ambassador lifted the veil, hosting the inaugural Chanel Style Sessions workshop at its Avenue Montaigne boutique, sharing her favorite Chanel wardrobe essentials and style tips with a small group of journalists and personalities.
Display units dotted throughout the two-level boutique presented her picks themed around seven categories, pulling from across the cruise, fall Act 1 and Paris-Rome Métiers d’Art collections. They included the prerequisite little black jacket in various iterations, blouses and accessories, plus trays of trims, ribbons, buttons and chains displayed alongside.
The event marked the launch of CdMdiary.com, a lifestyle portal narrated by de Maigret, in partnership with Chanel. The fashion icon likened the site to Instagram, adding: “It goes deeper, with more information. Women often ask me about my inspirations and this mix of my universe and Chanel’s; the things we have in common. This is only the beginning, it’s very raw still. Cultural influences — music, books, actors — have been so important in helping me define my own look.”
Sections include Backstage, in which de Maigret shares intimate snaps of her Chanel experiences, from shoots to attending shows; Crushes, where she cherry-picks cultural events and bands she’s into, and Dressing Talks, where she proffers style tips geared around the Chanel collections and goes into celebrities’ closets to talk style.
Known for her androgynous, rock-tinged ensembles, de Maigret, who started modeling for Chanel in the late Nineties, also featured in Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’s tome, “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited.” Muse duties aside, the multifaceted talent also has a music label and is a producer, photographer and co-author of the book, “How To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are.”
Among those taking notes at the workshop were up-and-coming French actresses Karidja Touré and Marie-Ange Casta, and electronic artist Irène Drésel.
“The first time I ever entered a Chanel store was to buy a tweed suit for my sister’s wedding when I was younger. It was all a bit daunting at the time having grown up with these images of Catherine Deneuve and Romy Schneider in Chanel suits. It felt like a big thing for me, but I went along and discovered the store, and that’s where my relationship with the brand changed because I discovered all these amazing cool knits and pants,” said de Maigret, perched on a sofa in the store’s salon. “For the workshop, it was so much fun getting to dig through the collections. I wanted to focus the mix on timeless classics that you want to keep wearing and more elaborate métiers d’art pieces.” Asked to describe her style, she replied: “Effortless is a word that tends to come up a lot. I always say I’m quite lazy, I like to wear jeans. And with Chanel, you can throw on a little black jacket and it pulls a look together, with just a T-shirt underneath. I always like to mix a strong piece with basics.”
Winking to Gabrielle Chanel’s pioneering hijacking of the male wardrobe in the Twenties, de Maigret shared anecdotes about sneaking baggy trousers from her father and brother’s wardrobes as a student, that she would hitch up with belts, and going through her Nirvana phase — “all holey jeans and plaid shirts.” She also dished out tips on how she goes about pulling together an outfit. “When I look in the mirror, I avoid looking at my face so as not to let emotions get in the way. I pretend I’m a stylist and focus on the body detached from the head, funny as that sounds, and then I’m like, okay try rolling up the sleeves or adding a belt, little twists to make the look a bit more interesting.”
As the guests hit the racks, she jumped into action, handing a timid looking Drésel an oversized peacoat to try on over a gold lamé slip and nudging Touré, who’d slipped into a long black feathery dress and beaded silver bolero to try breaking the jacket with something a little less classic. “She just gets it, but I can’t believe there are no heels!” laughed Drésel who is working on a new album that she described as “hypnotic.” Pulling on a pair of metallic derbies to match her oversized cashmere cardigan, de Casta, who recently wrapped filming Edouard Baer’s “Ouvert La Nuit,” also gave her nod of approval. “I like that she’s very elegant but remains herself in the way she pulls the pieces together.”
The Chanel Style Sessions display will remain in the store through Nov. 29, with the workshop set to travel to cities around the world. Dates and locations are to be confirmed.